Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Gift Idea #2: Unleash the Force

A trio of Star Wars books: A pop-up, paper craft book and Yoda-inspired series. (Save you, they can!)

Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure, by Matthew Reinhart, Orchard, $36.99, ages 7 & up, 10 pages, 2012. A skeletal General Grievous lunges out with sabers swinging, in one of the most exciting pop ups in this 3-D sequel. Engineering wizard Reinhart follows up his best-selling Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy with painterly pop-ups that are so intricate, it's hard to believe they could be mass produced. Readers will want to gingerly move from one scene to another, with parents helping kids (even as kids bounce around, wanting to rush to see it all). Devious separatists and fanged monsters lurk under folds, then swivel in attack, and in one, a bounty hunter's head transforms into a mercenary's. Smaller pop-ups near page corners are often nested three folds deep and can be viewed at least two at a time (with care). Reinhart packs in so many plot elements, every section bulges like a scrapbook. The book spans three prequel movies and the Clone Wars, from when Anakin is recruited as a Jedi through his transformation into Darth Vader. The grand finale is equipped with an LED and shows the fallen Jedi swiping the air with a saber that turns blue to red, as he passes to the Dark Side. Reinhart's book is a jaw-dropping marvel -- haunting and perilous like George Lucas's epic movies, and layered with complexity. Once more, Reinhart stretches the bounds of 3-D paper art and leaves even his youngest fan speechless. Best part: The gulp factor. One of my favorites is an eerie little pop-up at the end of the book. The head of Darth Sidious slips out of Palpatine's cloak, transforming the chancellor into the evil lord, with a deranged grin and raised claw-like hand. Click here to watch the trailer or scroll down to the next post!

Star Wars Origami, 36 Amazing Paper-folding Projects from a Galaxy Far, Far Away, by Chris Alexander, foreword by Tom Angleberger, Workman, $16.95, ages 9 an up, 272 pages. From the creator of comes an irresistible tome of paper-folding projects. Alexander -- who Angleberger (author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda) aptly calls the "Jedi Master" of origami  -- has designed 36 models representing iconic creatures, characters, weapons and battleships from the Star Wars epic. Alexander begins with a training chapter -- a short lesson in basic folds -- then dives into projects of varying difficulty, beginning at a Youngling level (easy), and on to Padawan (medium), Jedi Knight (difficult) and Jedi Master (tricky). Alexander takes readers step-by-step through the folds, giving pictures as he goes, and supplies 72 sheets of artfully designed paper. In between projects, fans take a breather and test their memories with trivia quizzes. Among the highlights, a death star for beginners that blows up into a small paper pillow and a self-standing C-350 made from two pieces of golden paper detailed with joints, eyes, even shadows (medium). Origami, in general, is challenging and Alexander's projects -- though well-explained -- are no different. So, plan on making this a joint activity for parents and child to avoid needless frustration. But be ready. Young fans will want to fold them all!  Best part: An elaborately folded Taun We -- long-necked and as elegant as a preying mantis.

Origami Yoda Book series (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back, The Secret of Fortune Wookie), by Tom Angleberger, Amulet, $12.95 each, 8 and up, 160-176 pages, 2010-2012.  In this hilarious series, a sixth-grade misfit shows up at school with an origami Yoda on his fingers and the puppet begins doling out advice that suggests the puppet is wise beyond the boy's years. Is this just the boy, Dwight, throwing his voice or could this "green paper wad" have mystical powers? Written like case files, this fun, fast-paced series explores the social dynamics and fads of sixth grade, and what it means to rise to greatness. Could it be that greatness lies in...weirdness?  Best parts: When Dwight's cootie-catcher takes on a life on its own and inspires the arrival of paper puppet Chewbacca, a Fortune Wookie, and folded Han Solo, alias Han Foldo. Also, every book includes instructions to recreate one of these sage little puppets. (Watch for Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling: An Origami Yoda Activity book, due out in March!)

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