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4.4 out of 5 stars64
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Think of this as a sort of graphic-chapter-book, and I mean that in a very good way.

Mr. Brown has taken practically every important aspect of the Star Wars canon, written it in a style that would be interesting for and accessible to an early reader, illustrated it with very clever and apt illustrations, and wrapped it all up as a "school days" adventure that features a realistic and engaging hero.

Roan is crushed when he is denied admission to Star Pilot Academy, and then confused and intimidated when he later receives an invitation to attend the more prestigious but less well known Jedi Academy. The other students at the Academy were tapped when they were much younger, so Roan has to adjust as the new kid and the latecomer. The story embraces all of the conventions of middle school fiction - Roan makes friends and enemies, encounters bullies, has some scary teachers and some teachers he really likes, deals with homesickness and adjusting to school. There is some budding romance. There are some intrigues, and lots of school based events, (a dance, a light saber tournament, a science fair, field trips, an election).

The genius here is that everything is based on Star Wars. Yoda is basically the headmaster of the Academy. The teachers are characters from the various movies. Field trips are to the sites of Star Wars episodes. Students all come from worlds whose names you recognize. Our hero, Roan, is from Tatooine and is basically a stand-in for a Luke Skywalker type character. There are lots of inside jokes and references, so that you have both an engaging story that is open to a Star Wars newbie and an immersive and sly Star Wars compendium for really rabid fans.

The book is written at a chapter book or slightly higher level, but because it is a graphic novel with collages, inserts, extra illustrations, letters home, vacation photos and the like it feels a little bit like a comic book. I could see this as being a really effective book for the purpose of moving a young reader from chapter books to more demanding fare.

For what it's worth, the Jedi training includes a lot of emphasis on concentration, calm, courage, honesty, loyalty and similar virtues. While there is no particular political or moral point being made by the book, (most of this comes from Yoda, and some of it seems tongue in cheek), and none of this is very heavy handed, it gives the book a little bit of old fashioned positive instruction that I found encouraging. The students are all decent and realistic, and Roan's awkwardness as the new kid is especially well sketched, so despite the Star Wars theme everything that happens could be relatable to a regular Earthbound kid reader.

So, if your young reader is a Star Wars fan, or just looking for an early reader that's a bit out of the ordinary, this could be a very nice choice.

Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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on 21 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I got this book for my 6 year old son. He looked at it, read it a little with mom and dad, and lost all interest. He loves star wars but could not seem to get into this at all. When I had a read of itn I found the story very weak and does not seem to pull in your interest. This is an adult opinion of a kids book of course but even in a kids book there should be a story to draw you in. The story is good enough but not engaging enough to keep the interest of a child.
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VINE VOICEon 18 October 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Jedi Academy is the follow-up to Jeffrey Brown's much shorter Vader & Son and Vader's Little Princess books. It shares a very similar sense of humour and if you enjoyed those, you will likely enjoy this as well.

As another reviewer has noted here, Jedi Academy is a cross between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Star Wars. It's not a novel, more a collection of cartoons and diary entries written by a young boy from Tattoine who fails to get into Pilot Academy and ends up at Jedi Academy instead, much to his distress (although better than the Farming Academy he narrowly avoids).

From that point on he comes across a whole range of different characters and has to deal with all the standard high school trials, like first love, bullying and so on. But with added Force and lightsabre training. It's all told in an easy style, with the author's endearing little sketches, and is pretty faithful to the Star Wars universe.

Jeffrey Brown knows his Star Wars and there is a lot here for the seasoned fan to have a chuckle about. References which may be too obscure for younger readers will find an audience in their (admittedly Star-Wars-loving) parents. The humour is quite gentle overall, there are some laugh out loud moments but generally the book has you smiling most of the time.

It's an entertaining, if unsurprising read, and aimed just about right that both me and my two sons have got something out of the book. Highly recommended if you're a Star Wars fan, probably not if you aren't (but then you probably wouldn't have read all of this if that was the case anyway).

The Force is strong in this one.
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on 2 October 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is commercial gold - a delicious mashup of Star Wars and Diary of a Wimpy Kid that will have tremendous appeal to 7-11 year olds, particularly boys. I've never been able to take the Star Wars universe seriously and perhaps that's why, despite my initial cynicism, I found this rather adorable. It's just a touch more challenging than Wimpy Kid in terms of the amount of reading required but I really don't think children will notice this, so it's ideal for moving them onto a level where text begins to crowd out illustration (a gripe I have against the madly popular Tom Gates series which, though artistically very creative, are a step down for lazy readers).

Roan's a nice character - he wants to be a star pilot (doesn't everyone?) but ends up with a place at the elite Jedi Academy where he goes through the usual pre-teen anxieties of making friends, avoiding bullies, negotiating his first crush, all with the added pressure of having to figure out how to use the Force by not trying to use the Force, which isn't as easy as it sounds. Hard to use, the Force is. With the exception of Yoda, we don't get to know the teachers nearly as well as we do at Hogwarts, but the Wookie gym teacher who never utters a comprehensible word deserves an honourable mention.

Kids will be ale to relate to Roan's anxities whilst finding his background admirably cool and exotic. Unlike the Potter-verse, there's no indication of further plot developments (other than a happy ending with Roan looking forward to his second year at Jedi school) but, having miraculously managed to wrest the rights out of the Lucas empire's clutches, it's highly unlikely that this won't be the first of a successful series.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away 10 year-old Roan Novachez lives on the desert planet of Tattooine with his mum and younger brother Ollie. Roan dreams of being a pilot like his dad and joining his older brother Davin at Pilot Academy but his application is rejected, even though all of his friends get in. Crushed, he thinks he'll have to go to boring Plant Academy on Tatooine when he gets a letter from Master Yoda at the Jedi Academy on Coruscant, offering him a place as a Padawan, even though Roan's a lot older than the normal Jedi training age.

But life as a padawan isn't easy. His teachers are weird (especially Master Yoda, who talks funny) and he's bullied by his classmates Cronah and Cyrus because he can't use the Force to even lift a book. It's a struggle for Roan to get through the year and even though the lightsabers are cool, he still really wishes that he was at Pilot Academy ...

Jeffrey Brown's licenced Star Wars graphic novel is a cute spin off set 200 years before Star Wars and perfect for readers aged 8+. Told in a mix of journal entries and comic panels, Roan's a sweet natured protagonist, very creative but uncertain about his Jedi abilities and concerned by his inability to make friends. I could have done without the budding romance with Gaiana but his friendship with Pasha is well depicted and I absolutely loved Yoda and the Wookie P.E. teacher Kitmum. There are some in jokes for older Star Wars fans and the Ewok Pilot comic strip will entertain younger readers. All in all, it's a charming read and I'd love to read the next one.

My favourite bits of the book are Roan's interactions with Yoda but his home life is also good fun, with younger brother Ollie being sweet rather than irritating and his mum having a wry, practical view to having him about the house. It is a slim read and one that older kids will probably get through quickly, but it's entertaining and the illustrations are great. Given all the tie-in tat out there these days, this book's a keeper and I'll definitely be reading on.
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on 20 November 2013
Having read "Darth Vader & son" and "Vaders little princess" I had high hopes for this. But it just wasn't funny. Its the diary of a kid going to Jedi School, with only a few comics and other funny bits.
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VINE VOICEon 2 October 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This slim volume of just over 150 pages tells the story of how Roan Novachez, a young boy living on the planet Tatooine (familiar from the Star Wars films), dreams of entering Pilot Academy to follow in the footsteps of his father and older brother, but is rejected and now is set to attend Agriculture Academy (the one Luke Skywalker was complaining about, if memory serves me right). That is, until a letter from the principal of the Jedi Academy arrives, with a personal note from one Master Yoda ...

Aimed at fluent readers (age 7+), the book is littered with in-jokes and references to the Star Wars films (so a familiarity with them is pretty much taken for granted), and, while I found a lot of it a bit tiresome or too zany, there is a lot for children to enjoy and identify with here: dealing with rejection, the excitement/terror of going to a new school and making new friends, experiencing bullying, peer pressure of doing well in class, that first crush on a girl ... My 11-year-old loved it and raced through the book in a day. Easily the best thing about it is the figure of Master Yoda, which is just spot-on and often made me chuckle. I think any young Star Wars fan will be delighted to call this book their own, and you as a parent will be happy because they're spending their time reading.
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on 23 September 2013
I absolutely loved this book! Let me preface by saying I haven't read Brown's Vader books, and that's ok because this book is not part of that series. I also am not a big Star Wars fan. I love the original three movies but have no time for the others; in fact I don't think I've ever even read a Star Wars "tie-in" book before. I was quite surprised that I enjoyed this book so much and I think it is due to the originality, which is hard to do with something as familiar as Star Wars. The book is populated with entirely original characters, yes some are of familiar species ie Wookie, relatives of Hut, early R2, 3PO models, etc, but the only Star Wars character brought into play here is Yoda, who is portrayed very well and not over used. The book reminds me immensely of "Wimpy Kid" but with more. The book is written in a series of journal entries, graphic novel sections, letters, comic strips, school pages, posters, etc. It is a visual feast and written in an easy-to-read handwritten print font. Other than being Star Wars themed, set during main character Roan Novachez's first year at Jedi Academy, the plot and events are those faced by any average middle-schooler. A delightful little read that has me wanting to follow Roan into his second year at the Academy!
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VINE VOICEon 21 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I picked this up on a whim on the basis of seeing it described as "Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Star Wars". I was going to give it to my son who had read through all the Wimpy Kid books, but little did I know that he know considered himself too old for them! He took one look at the cover for this and declined the offer.

So I did what any Star Wars loving man of my age would do. I read it myself.

It was quite enjoyable, although I could not get to grips with the main character being disappointed that he was going to Jedi Academy rather than Pilot School! There is a lot of humour in the book, including the main character's Ewok Pilot cartoons which were quite good. There are also a lot of illustrations that are supposed to form part of the character's learning. This could have been a fantastic opportunity to include some cool Star Wars tech stuff, but sadly that has been avoided in favour of cheap gags. In particular the lightsaber schematic particularly irked me as it suggested that it was powered by AA batteries. I'm not completely humourless, the thing that bothered me was more that it broke the spell of the book for me.

If you have an under-10 Star Wars fun in your life I am sure they will love it!
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The nearest kind of book I can compare this to is those in the series of 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid'. My son aged 8 has read the whole series and on occasion he even lets me into the jokes but tells me that the books are not for the eyes of parents.

Jedi Academy is in a similar vein, a sort of diary but based on a Star Wars theme. It is nicely presented with good illustrations and as it is a hardback book, it should take a lot of abuse.
My son read it in about an hour, I asked him what he though of it and he grunted 'don't ask!' Roughly translated this means 'I'm reading so don't disturb me!'
And there's me thinking only teenagers were so petulant. I blame it on the parents.

Finally I managed to get a few more words out of him and he finally admitted that 'it was OK'. No more no less. In 8 year old 'speak' this means he liked it.
I had a quick flick through after he had gone to bed and thought on the whole it was 'OK'.

However it is a book in the style of Diary of Wimpy Kid, a style that appears to be on the increase.
In this case as it is more sci-fi, it feels fresher and that allows it to work.
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