By BRUCE DENNILL
Star Wars: Where’s The Wookiee – A Search And Find Activity Book, published by Egmont 6.5
Star Wars Annual 2016, published by Egmont 6
If there’s one way (in contemporary society) to ensure that a film franchise extends its shelf life as far as it possibly can, it’s to appeal to kids – the prime pushers for “screen time” – via as many peripheral channels as possible, taking the brand into every possible area of their lives, including playtime, reading time and school time.
Disney are the gold standard for such activities and with the return of George Lucas’ epic fable to cinemas, their machine has kicked into, er, hyperdrive. Two of their offerings will appeal to young puzzlers.
Where’s The Wookiee? is an unashamed rip-off of the Where’s Waldo concept (although it’s unlikely that one outfit can patent an idea that involves looking for one particular item among a sea of others). Seven films and 30 years of story development means that they have a myriad bizarre characters to depict and settings to choose from, and illustrator Ulises Farinas must have had a lot of fun – and some very long nights – populating Jabba’s Palace, Echo Base and other recognisable locations. The nature of the challenge – finding one hirsute biped in a throng of curious creatures – means that adults will enjoy it as well.
The same might be said of the Star Wars Annual 2016, particularly where the legion of franchise geeks the series has spawned are concerned. The book is a compendium of interesting facts, surveys (in one, your answers suggest that you might share a mindset with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo or Darth Vader), lists (Top 10 Duels – some dubious choices there) and puzzles. Given the familiarity of many kids with strategy games, the character-vs-character challenges may prove particularly exciting.
Without pushing any boundaries, these volumes do add a positive dimension to the Star Wars experience that will likely dominate fans’ free time for the near future – at least until the cycle for the production of the eighth film begins.