There weren’t any back-to-school folders, backpacks, or lunchboxes in the fall of 1977, so I didn’t have anything to show for my new-found fandom when I started the third grade. Nor did I get any Star Wars presents for my eighth birthday that August. There was relatively little merchandise released around the time the movie came out. The big bonanza was yet to come in 1978.
However, there was one item I got soon after starting third grade that I treasured for years afterward. It was the Star Wars novelization by George Lucas. You know, the one I’d peeked through for the pictures prior to the film’s release. Little did I know that Alan Dean Foster ghostwrote the book, but it could’ve been written by Philip Roth for all I cared. It was Star Wars and a book, a grown-up book at that. I’d gone with my parents to what was one of my favorite school events, the annual book fair. Seriously, I LIVED for the book fair all of the way through my K-12 career. Another geeky trait, I’m afraid.
Did I ever go nuts for that novelization. It was the first one I’d ever read for any movie and right off the bat I picked up on an aspect of novelizations that bugs a lot of readers…the book was different! There were scenes in the book not in the movie and some of the dialogue was different from what was uttered in the film. I’d wondered why Lucas would do that. Could it be the book was based on a rough draft?
Since it was a book written above the third grade reading level, I ran into all kinds of phrases and words I’d never seen before. I frequently bothered my dad with these new words, asking, “What does this mean?” After a while my dad would just say, “Go look it up in the dictionary.” So, the dictionary became my reading companion.
Reading comprehension issues aside, I loved the book all of the same and re-read it several times. It created more questions about what was going on in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Who were the Whills and why did they write that Journal? Will we ever see this Emperor mentioned a few times? I still have that copy, though the cover is gone and “dogeared” doesn’t even begin to describe the yellowed pages.
Moreover, in 2004 I found at used book sale an original 1976 edition published before the film’s release with different cover art. It wasn’t in great shape but it was also only a quarter.