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Review: Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan!

Star Trek. Star Wars. To tell you the truth, I’m a mess when it comes to some pop culture phenomena. Leonard Nimoy. Princess Lea. Darth Vader. It’s all a huge jumble in my mind. (Sometimes, I even throw War Games into the jumble!) So why on earth am I reviewing a Star Wars book? Because it’s a lot of fun! And it doesn’t make a difference how much I mix up in my mind; I don’t really need to know everything about it. (But I can tell you now: This has nothing to do with Leonard Nimoy. And while Princess Lea and Darth Vader don’t show up, I do believe this is their show.)

Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan!
By Jeffrey Brown
Scholastic. $12.99 hc. (ISBN 978-0-545-62125-0) 176 p.
Recommended for grades 4+
(Available as an e-book)

So if you read the first volume in the series you’ll know that Roan ends up at the Jedi Academy, which is an academy usually predestined at birth, but he doesn’t get into Pilot school like he wants. He has a ton of adjusting to do his first year and he has to find his place, but as he enters his second year, Roan knows he’s going to be a star.

But this is middle school and this is a book, so it needs conflict to make it interesting. Therefore, things aren’t all that great. Roan doesn’t excel at Starpilot training. His best friends aren’t interested in him. In fact, Roan resorts to hanging out with his worst enemy, when they team up on a project to build a robot for one of their classes. But the friendship doesn’t feel right and Roan misses his friends. Can he make amends?

Humorously written as Roan’s journal, the book is interspersed with plenty of illustrations. Middle grade readers will eat this up. The school drama is very real and will mirror much of what goes on at many of our schools here on Earth. There is someone and something in this book for every reader to identify with.

The text is made to look hand lettered and the illustrations are simply and comically drawn. The black and white drawings are either doodled in Roan’s journal or written as 2-3 page comics that moves the story on.

To be released at the end of August, this is a perfect back to school title for middle grade readers. Don’t let “another diary book” get you down. The kids aren’t sick of the format yet!

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Scholastic

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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