Thursday, July 7, 2011

Star Wars: The Mystery of the Rebellious Robot

Star Wars: The Mystery of the Rebellious Robot
Eleanor Ehrhardt ~ Mark Corcoran ~ Random House, 1979


My apologies in advance to all you folks that come here to see highbrow children's literature, but sometimes, you gonna do what you gotta do...

I fought it for the longest time. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson were able to hold it at bay for a while, but eventually, it completely took over. My son has totally succumbed to the six-year-old virus that is Star Wars. Now, make no mistake. I love Star Wars. But once the characters wiggle into young, inquisitive minds like my son's, they eclipse everything. The mass commercialization of T-Shirts and thermos and games and toys and books and (shudder) LEGOS! If I never see another Boba Fett Lego for as long as I live, it will be too soon. The bottoms of my feet bear the scars to prove it.

That said, when your child embraces something, ye must get thy self on the bandwagon. Good thing for a thrifting-girl like myself, there's so much vintage Star Wars grub to be acquired. Like books, for example.

Now, I, for one, generally loathe movie/TV tie-ins. Since the beginning of the genre, publishers have spent little to no time on the content of these throwaways. Having worked for a publishing division with a licensing franchise, I know they are often written in a flash, usually in-house, and most of the time, hardly even contain dialogue. The authors are forced to cram all or most of the content of a full length feature film into a picture book format, and it almost never works. Granted, in defense of the publishing houses, they've already shelled out so much money for the rights to publish these books to begin with that the quality of what goes inside often gets overlooked, not by choice, but by necessity.

The thing that makes this particular movie tie-in different, is that not only is it actually pretty good, but it features a completely new, made up story not featured in any of the films.

And so it goes...

When Han, Luke and the gang create a super-vaporator to supply Tatooine (Luke's home planet) with the water they need to survive, their plans are side-tracked when R2-D2's circuits go haywire.

Everyone listened as Han Solo described what had happened aboard the Millennium Falcon. Finally Captain Egoreg, leader of the vaporator project, shook his head sadly. "We cannot find a cause for all these mechanical failures," he said. "I'm afraid that we will have to give up our plans to bring water, and new life, to Tatootine."

"But we can't just give up!" cried Princess Leia, a young member of the intergalactic government. "The people of Tatooine need our help to..."

Suddenly, in a flash of light and smoke, the conference room exploded.


Ah, yes. This book is full of thrills and spills, but fear not. Leave it up to Han's good buddy Chewie to sniff out the Jawas responsible for all this interplanetary madness. Good times, my friends. Good times.

The illustrations are so quirky, they are actually kinda fun. Kudos to Mr. Corcoran. Plus, any Star Wars tie-in that focuses a lot on Han Solo is OK in my book. (For more scans, see here, and for an interview about the book with the artist, look here.)


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9 comments:

Luisa said...

Love the vintage star wars. I know what you mean about keeping some things at bay but once our kids embrace something well there is no stopping them. We went through a star wars phase and the good thing I can say about it is there was a lot of drawing going on.

B. Streetman said...

yes drawing, but... the droids, oh the droids, oh the droids droids droids!

Jil Casey said...

The illustrations by Corcoran are really good!

Melissa@Julia's Bookbag said...

My husband just saw a glimpse of these pictures and pronounced them "AWESOME" -- the appeal of 'Star Wars' is ever enduring it seems....

Allen Knutson said...

The thing that makes this particular movie tie-in different, is that not only is it actually pretty good, but it features a completely new, made up story not featured in any of the films.

You know there are dozens of Star Wars novels, right? Check out the lightsaber combat entry, just to get a sense of the massive scale of the Star Wars canon outside the films.

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lightsaber

Weird fact: the Star Wars Christmas Special with Harvey Korman is canon.

B. Streetman said...

thanks Allen. yes, i do know all about the novels... my son has already been checking out the legions of books at the book store in the sci-fi section, but he's still too little to fully appreciate. i was more talking about picture books and stories for small children, which tend to be poorly-written rehashes of the movies.

Chandra said...

I have to say this looks pretty awesome. I still fondly remember my R2D2 underoos. Wish I still had them some days... And now my daughter proudly totes a Star Wars lunch box to school.

Antmusic said...

Those are some GREAT illustrations!

ReadingJuice said...

Wow what a find, those illustrations are fantastic. Looks way better than the rubbish Star Wars tie-in books I've owned (may still own) in years past.

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