Star Wars Episode I - Queen in Disguise
by Monica Kulling, illustrated by John Alvin
Published by Random House
Scott's Rating: 3 out of 4
This is a "Step Into Reading" book from Scholastic. It is intended for Grades 1 - 3 and is written for beginning readers.
Captain Panaka approaches the new Queen of Naboo, Amidala. He proposes a plan to her. Whenever she is in danger, she is to switch places with one of her handmaidens and pose as Padme. Amidala agrees, but she insists on being trained as a bodyguard like the other handmaidens. When Padme joins the other handmaidens, they do not realize it is the Queen. During exercises, a training droid goes berserk. It's up to Padme to save the day!
These "Jedi Reader" books are a great idea. It's a good way to get kids interested in reading by combining it with something like Star Wars. The artwork by John Alvin is incredibly well done. Alvin doesn't rely just on production stills to make his images, so there's a lot of variety here. There's a shot of the Queen in full royal attire without makeup, pictures of Padme in action, and some nice renderings of the handmaidens.
As for the story, I'm really glad they didn't simply rehash a part of the film. That would have been boring. This book expands on the films and gives the characters a bit more background which is welcome. Padme's training and the origin of the Queen switcheroo were great material for this book.
I realize this book is intended for children, so you can't be too critical here. But two items didn't make much sense to me. First of all, this book states that Panaka was aware that Padme was the Queen. However, in the film, he seemed very protective of her. He definitely didn't want the Queen going to Tatooine, yet he didn't seem to mind if Padme went to Mos Espa. Did she pull rank on him or something? It just didn't seem to jive.
Second, the book starts out showing the handmaidens with Amidala out of makeup. They obviously know what she looks like. However, at the end of the book, they are shocked to learn that Padme was really the Queen. Uhhh....that was a surprise to them? That didn't make much sense either. These are the only reasons I marked this book down in the ratings.
Not much ugly here. I guess I'd have to say the big "Brand New!" thing on the cover. It takes away from the cool John Alvin art.