‘Star Wars’: Disney takes on original trilogy in new kids’ book series

April 17, 2014 | 5:52 p.m.
"The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight," by Tony DiTerlizzi and Ralph McQuarrie. (Disney-Lucasfilm Press)

“The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight,” by Tony DiTerlizzi and Ralph McQuarrie. (Disney-Lucasfilm Press)

Disney is releasing a new series of children’s books based on the original “Star Wars” trilogy, starting with a collaboration between bestselling children’s author Tony DiTerlizzi and the late iconic concept artist Ralph McQuarrie.

The “Star Wars Saga” series will hit stores beginning with DiTerlizzi and McQuarrie’s picture book “The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight” in October, Disney Publishing Worldwide announced Thursday. Three subsequent books will follow, leading up to the highly anticipated December 2015 movie release of “Star Wars: Episode VII.”

The additional titles include retellings of “A New Hope” by R.J. Palacio (“Wonder”), “The Empire Strikes Back” by Adam Gidwitz (“A Tale Dark and Grimm”) and “Return of the Jedi” by Tom Angleberger (“Origami Yoda” series). The books will be illustrated by “Star Wars” concept artist Iain McCaig and published under the Disney-Lucasfilm Press imprint.

ep5 bts 978 Star Wars: Disney takes on original trilogy in new kids book series

Concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, who died March 3, 2012. (Terry Chostner/Lucasfilm)

DiTerlizzi, best known for “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” is an admitted fan of McQuarrie, who was recruited by George Lucas to paint the vivid alien universe that the “Star Wars” mastermind sometimes struggled to put into words.

“You know what it’s like? It’s like George Martin and the Beatles,” DiTerlizzi told Hero Complex after McQuarrie’s death in 2012. “You kind of needed both of them.”

McQuarrie’s sketches of C-3PO, R2-D2, the Stormtroopers and even Darth Vader served as a blueprint on Lucas’ set. And though the artist never expected his paintings to find an audience beyond the filmmakers, fans fell in love with his work, which found its way to posters, lunch boxes and action figures.

“So many people feel that Ralph’s work was the pulse of ‘Star Wars,’ ” said John Scoleri, who co-authored a book about McQuarrie’s art. “He created from scratch what so many people since then have kind of taken for granted.”

Check out some of McQuarrie’s concept art in the gallery above and let us know what you think about the children’s books in the comments.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+

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