If You Went to Middle School in the Star Wars Universe…

You might be at Jedi Academy!  At least if you were lucky enough.  However, Roan Novachez had to warm up to the idea.  Wanting desperately to become a pilot, he instead got drafted into Jedi Academy at an advanced age for that school.  Being the new kid on the block the first book (simply titled Jedi Academy) explores Roan’s adjustment to life in his new school.  In this latest installment, Roan returns to Jedi Academy ready for his second year.  He expects things to be even better than they were last year, but soon learns that this year will have its own challenges.  Roan has to deal with Internet bullying, insecurity with his friends, and difficult teachers; the same kinds of issues kids today have to deal with, too.  Brown handles these topics deftly, recognizing the challenges that come with growing up sometimes without easy answers.

Return of the Padawan to be released on July 29, 2014
Return of the Padawan to be released on July 29, 2014

I love the flow of the Jedi Academy series.  Brown uses different media all throughout the book as it is supposed to mirror a real journal that Roan is keeping.  There are letters, notes, doodles, comic strips, “screen shots” of the Jedi Holobook, and other styles from beginning to end.  Brown even includes mistakes that Roan makes and crosses out which I thought was a smart and wise touch for kids, letting them know that everyone makes mistakes and it’s no big deal.  In my interview with Jeffrey, he said he hoped that this book would encourage kids to express themselves creatively.  Who knows?  Perhaps your child will one day become an author, too!

What’s great about the Jedi Academy books is that it gives insight into a world only hinted at in the movies.  What do young Jedi in training have to go through?  While humorous, Brown’s Star Wars nerdiness is quite evident in the book.  He references planets and places that are in the Star Wars universe and keeps them consistent with what fans of the movies may have seen.  When Roan and his class go to Hoth, they encounter a wampa that Yoda and one of the other teachers fends off with the Force.  Another realistic detail of the Hoth trip is when one of the students turns the heater up too high and they all get wet in the ice caves and then another student goes outside before drying off and instantly freezes up!  Funny, and again true to the depiction of Hoth in the movies.

Roan's return to the cafeteria with a new Gamorrean chef
Roan’s return to the cafeteria with a new Gamorrean chef

Jeffrey Brown has done a terrific job with the Jedi Academy series.  While made for kids and young adults, I found it equally entertaining as my daughter did.  It gave us something to talk about that we could share together.  We would compare notes about it each night, trying to guess what would happen next.  It’s not always easy to find books that kids and adults can enjoy together, but this one was perfect!  Highly recommended for kids who like something fun to read whether they like Star Wars or not, and for the parent who enjoys an intelligent, easy-to-read book they can share with their children.  Of course, it helps if you’re a Star Wars fan!

Title: Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan
Author: Jeffrey Brown
Cost: $12.99
Age: 8-14 (or any Star Wars fan who loves funny books that are good to read)
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Genre: Humor, Star Wars, Children’s Book

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