Browsing the Backlist
- written by Wu Kee Smith
- illustrated by JAKe
- published by Chronicle Books (2011)
What we have here is cute novelty. It’s part language guide to the Wookiee dialect and part guide to Wookiee culture. It also comes complete with an audio player set to play 10 distinct Wookiee grunts and howls (which is its primary selling point, as far as kids are concerned).
It’s a short book at only 21 pages. And those pages are of the thick and sturdy baby board book variety. But they pack in a lot of gags and groaners in those few pages.
Each audio clip is given a two-page spread. They’re organized by topics, such as “In the Starship,” “In a meeting,” and “At the art museum.” Each page has a phonetic spelling of Chewie’s grunt, a translation, some other helpful phrases, and then a pithy description of what to expect in that environment.
I should note that the entire thing is very tongue-in-cheek. For example, when Wookiees are in a meeting, “Wah shrf shrf shrf rrrooaarrgghh” means “I’m on board with this strategy.” Other helpful phrases include “Let’s try some blue-sky thinking” and “How do you take your coffee?” Finally, we learn that Wookiees are dynamic leaders and engaged colleagues. You get the idea.
Take another look at the author’s name. They’ve committed themselves to the gag with this book. The production quality is on par with what you should expect from Chronicle. They didn’t cut costs, at least not in any significant way, and it feels like this was certainly someone’s labor of love.
Verdict? It’s definitely cute, and Zoey loves listening to Chewie grunt and growl. She also gets a kick out of some of the “translations,” but this book is definitely not written for younger kids. They just don’t get the jokes. Older fans of Star Wars will get a kick out of it (I sure do), but at a $16.95 cover price, I’m not sure it’s ultimately worth the price of admission. Since this is a backlist title, though, it can be found for a cheaper price–and I would absolutely recommend picking it up.