Most children and young adults when they think of STAR WARS think of the prequel episodes I-III and the recent animated television show THE CLONE WARS. Disney's new projects involving the franchise though will be more focused on being tied to the original trilogy of movies. This fall a new animated television show titled Star Wars: Rebels that is set in a time period just before Star Wars Episode IV takes place will air on the DisneyXD cable channel and the new feature film Star Wars Episode VII is a spin off 30 years after Return of the Jedi and will reference many of the characters from the original trilogy. It really appears Disney is focusing the Star Wars brand on the original trilogy and putting the prequels on the back burner at least for the near future. So to acquaint today's youth with the foundation of the Star Wars universe that Disney is tying its future projects to they are publishing a new series of children's books to build interest and awareness on the original stories that started it all.
Disney Publishing Worldwide will release four new children's books tied to the original Star Wars movie trilogy beginning in October 2014 with The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. This will be a picture book encompassing all three films (A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) written by Tony DiTerlizzi (the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles) and illustrated with Ralph McQuarrie concept art. McQuarrie, who passed away in 2012, is one of my favorite artists and is known for working with George Lucas in providing the visual concept for the development of the Star Wars movies. Ralph McQuarrie's concept drawings used for the pre-production of the original three Star Wars films are also the basis for the visual look of the upcoming animated television series Star Wars: Rebels.
Following the release of The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, Disney will release a book retelling the story of Star Wars: A New Hope written by R.J. Palacio (author of the children's novel WONDER that was #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List) in April 2015, Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back will come out in July 2015 written by Adam Gidwitz (author of A Tale Dark & Grimm) and in October 2015 Star Wars: Return of the Jedi written by Tom Angleberger (author of Origami Yoda) will be released. These books will help kickoff the theatrical release of the next Star Wars film, Episode VII in December 2015. The 3 children's book focusing on telling the tales of each individual movie will all be illustrated by Ian McCaig, who was a concept artist for the prequel Star Wars movies Episodes I-III and specifically is credited as the designer behind the look of Darth Maul.
These will be some of the first Star Wars titles to be published in-house by Disney versus being printed and distributed by licensees. The books will be available globally and in the United States will be published under the Disney-Lucasfilm Press imprint of the Disney Book Group. Additionally, six new Star Wars titled books tied to the Star Wars: Rebels animated TV series on DisneyXD will be published by the Disney Book Group this August preceding the debut of the new show. According to the press release announcing the new Star Wars books, Disney will engage in a combination of publishing Star Wars books through existing licencees, new licensees, and Disney-Lucasfilm Press. It notes that in addition to the Star Wars: Rebels books published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press there will also be other titles from licensees DK, Bendon, Klutz and Scholastic.
One of my favorite books growing up as a child was The Illustrated Star Wars Universe which featured Ralph McQuarrie's artwork. I still have a copy of the book in my library. I'm going to be looking forward to taking a look at The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight to see how it compares to the original artwork book I own & to enjoy reading through it with my own children.