The Galaxy Needs You is a children’s book published by Disney Lucasfilm Press, an imprint of Disney Book Group, written by Caitlin Kennedy, and illustrated by Eda Kaban. It follows Rey’s heroes quest through the events of the Star Wars sequel trilogy of films, as you learn why you’re an important part of the galaxy. The book is split between the events occurring during The Force Awakening, The Last Jedi, and finally culminating in some non-spoiler scenes that feature in The Rise of Skywalker.
Kennedy’s main message throughout the book, is having a younger reader identify that each person is unique in their own special way by pairing the text to a key visual from each of the current films. While this seems like a very generic concept, the application of it is so beautifully constructed, and paired so perfectly to the illustrations, that the moral of the story is delivered with an emotional gravitas I wasn’t prepared for.
As the first part of the story develops into the events of The Force Awakens you feel a sense of hope as the author introduces the theme of individuality by asking the question “Have you ever noticed?”. Kennedy mentions physical features, and attributes such curiosity, kindness, strength, and bravery. The structure of the statement is so gently established so as to focus in on the reader by forcing them not to compare themselves to others, but rather to focus inward by reinforcing their own abilities.
“Nobody else is smart in the way you’re smart…
… or curious in the way you’re curious.
Nobody else likes the exact same things you like…
or is kind in the particular way you’re kind.”
Even as an adult, I felt a sense of identity by recognizing my individuality.
As the story progresses further we pass through the events of The Last Jedi, and here Kennedy covers the topics of obstacles, mistakes, and fear. I adore that this book, aimed at a reading level of five to eight years old, addresses the topics of mistakes and fear, but levies it towards the heroes of the story. The imagery highlighting that even Jedi Knights, are capable of being wrong, making mistakes, and being afraid. The illustrations from the Episode Eight, marry so well with the tone of what the author is implying: Rey’s training with Luke, her confrontation with Supreme Leader Snoke, and her eventual conflict with Kylo Ren.
Kaban, who’s entire artwork is sublime throughout the book, encapsulates not only the message, but everything that is Star Wars from the movies themselves. The color palettes are darker and harsher for the second part of this story, reflecting the cinematography of Rian Johnson, while also paralleling the struggle that Kennedy is trying to infer. Kaban chooses the powerful moment of Rey using the force to lift the rocks to help the rebels escape certain doom on the planet Crait as the text reads:
“You can do hard things.”
Finally, we move into the final third of the story which reflects those messages found in The Rise of Skywalker, such as the importance of friends, a found family, and lastly understanding that you have an important role to play within the galaxy.
The duality of The Galaxy Needs You is so tightly knit together that while consuming a self esteem story, you are also reliving the narrative of Star Wars, however it all feels so naturally interlaced that one can not exist without the other.
I read this book aloud with my children, twin boys of 6, and a daughter of 5, and I couldn’t help but choke up watching them digest the life lessons taught through the storytelling of Star Wars. This story is unapologetically uplifting.
The artwork is beyond gorgeous, as it captures key moments throughout the films, but in Kaban’s own unique illustrative design. Visually, her work lights a desire in me to want to back and consume all of these movies again with the same fever I had upon the initial viewing.
Kennedy’s understanding of Star Wars shines throughout every page, and this is a book I would urge any parent, family member, guardian, close friend to buy for a young Star Wars fan in their life. My kids loved this story, and happily rated it a 4/5. Honestly, as a Star Wars-obsessed fan, buy this for anyone you know who is a fan of the franchise. It’s too good to be ignored, and the message of hope it will leave you with, will leave you feeling like you too, can take on the whole Empire by yourself.
The Galaxy Needs You is available on Disney and in shops now.
The Galaxy Needs You
Kennedy’s understanding of Star Wars shines throughout every page, and this is a book I would urge any parent, family member, guardian, close friend to buy for a young Star Wars fan in their life.