Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jedi Academy

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Brown, Jeffrey. Jedi Academy. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc, 2013. Print.

ISBN:  9780545505178

Audience: Ages 8-12, Grade 3-6

Summary:  Roan has always wanted to go to Pilot School like his father and brother, but he gets rejected and sent to Jedi Academy instead. There he meets an eccentric cast of veteran Jedi Knights (including Master Yoda) as well as the other students who have been training all their lives. Roan has some trouble learning to use the force and fitting in at first, but he ends up a success and makes new friends in the process.

Strengths: Obviously, this is an extremely high interest story that could lead students to more complicated texts. The illustrations would be very helpful for below-level readers and for ESOL learners. The humor is grade appropriate and the subject matter is very accessible – the narrative is actually a typical coming of age story.

Weaknesses:    There is not a lot of challenging vocabulary, and some students may not be interested in the subject matter. Background knowledge of the Star Wars universe is helpful for the reader.

Uses:   Using the Star Wars movies or other materials, you could compare and contrast the graphic novel experience (CCSS ELA:RL.7 Grades 4-6). This book would be excellent for discussing literary structure since it has a strong problem/solution arc (CCSS ELA: RL.5 Grades 2-5).  There are many charts, graphs, and other graphics that could used as a fun introduction to text features. (CCSS ELA:RI.8 Grades 4-6).  Art teachers could use the illustrations to talk about graphic design and line drawings.  This book is perfectly suited to put in the hands of reluctant readers, especially boys, and would be high interest for many students.

Read-alikes:
·      Jedi Academy series – Jeffrey Brown (the continuation of the same series)
·      Darth Vader and Son – Jeffrey Brown (another comic set in the Star Wars universe by the same author)
·      The Strange Case of Origami Yoda -  Tom Angleberger (series about origami Star Wars figures that sort-of come to life)
·      Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney (series that follows a boy as he goes through elementary school and into middle school)
·      Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures- Haden Blackman (comic series set in the Star Wars universe)
·      Amulet – Kazu Kibuishi (graphic novel about two ordinary kids who end up in a fantasy world)  

Other:  Starred review in Booklist

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