Star Wars: Jedi Academy
Author/Illustrator: Jeffrey Brown
Publication Date: August 2013
Lexile Level: 650
The first volume of the Jedi Academy graphic novels introduces us to Roan, a boy on Tatooine who ends up going to the Jedi Academy after he is rejected from Pilot School. We follow him through his first year through a collection of journal entries, traditional comic panels, and other inserts.
Jeffrey Brown does a fantastic job introducing us to Roan and his struggle as he enters middle school. Roan’s primary problem is that he’s behind most of the Jedi students, who have been training for years. We’re not clued in to why Roan has been selected only now for training, but maybe that will come out in the later volumes.
The cast of students is just big enough to be comfortable and still feel like an entire class. Of course, there are the stereotypical bullies (one has to wonder why such children would be permitted to train as Jedi) but their behavior seems to be mostly to provide some conflict. One thing that stands out is Roan’s comments on how busy he is and how there’s so much to do for class. I like this inclusion—it seems like a little thing, but that is a legitimate adjustment problem that readers may have as they transition from elementary to middle school themselves.
The books are great for anyone with only a basic knowledge of the Star Wars universe. Different creatures are explained and it may help children who are 1) interested in seeing the movies for the first time, or 2) have seen the movies, but struggled with the different terms being thrown out.
Though I use the term graphic novel, this is really more of a chapter book, with the comic book panels being used sparingly. Fans of Captain Underpants and other hybrid books will enjoy Jedi Academy.
Final thoughts: Great for kids who love Star Wars, as well as fans of hybrid novels. It’s a good bridge for those who are transitioning into chapter books, but may need work on their stamina. Also good for those who get bored with traditional novel formats.