In Review: It’s Your Universe: You Have the Power To Make It Happen

An autobiography and a motivational book seamlessly blend as perfect reading for young readers.

It’s Your Universe: You Have the Power To Make It Happen by Ashley Eckstein with Stacy Kravetz

Published by Disney Book Group, May 8, 2018. Hardcover of 208 pages at $17.99. Intended for ages 12 – 18. 

Note: I read an advanced copy so anything may have changed by publication. 

The cover: Wearing a May the Force Be With You baseball shirt, author Ashley Eckstein holds her right fist high and it emits a violet blast to the sky where the title rests. Below her are three titles she’s associated with, her name, and then the name of Stacy Kravetz. The background is a violet starfield.

The premise: From the back cover, “Step into the Spotlight. Ashley Eckstein is know to say that she ‘grew up Disney.’ Ashley has always been inspired by the magic and wonder of Walt Disney World, Disney movies and television shows, and the beloved Disney characters. In this inspirational guide, Ashley tells her story of being a little girl dreaming of being on a Disney stage, how she came to be the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars, and the path she took to creating Her Universe, a groundbreaking fashion brand and community for fangirls. In It’s Your Universe, Ashley shares her own life lessons as well as lessons from iconic Disney characters as a road map to show you how to dream it and do it!” I know very little about Ashley’s background, so I’m hoping to glean some information there. However, I know I’m not the target audience for this book, so I’m interested to see what the motivational aspects of this will be. Overall grade: B

The summary: This book covers Eckstein’s early days and how she fell head over heels for the magic of Walt Disney World and focused herself on doing all that she could of being part of that theme park. She tells about her struggles, how she worked her way up, until finally landing on television, live action and animated, eventually ending up the head of a successful clothing line, Her Universe. Many pictures from the author’s childhood and recent ventures help show the reader that Eckstein was constantly working to reach her goals. I was very impressed that Eckstein reveals that she had moments that she thought she would fail in her ventures, telling the reader that she had to find the strength to continue. Her history is interspersed with dialogue from Disney cartoons that inspired her to keep going. In addition to this, and this was really neat, when Eckstein reveals what she did to keep herself going to achieve her dreams, she includes places in the book for young readers to write their own dreams, desires, and what they are successful at. These frequent pit stops in the story allow the reader to realize they can achieve their dreams if they plan things out as the author did. This is a strong element that separates this book from other autobiographies for young readers: Eckstein helps them to plan their success. I found this inspiring.

The conclusion: Ahsoka Tano’s leaving the Jedi Order ends the book, with Ashley saying that the character’s return to Rebels as a leader in the Rebellion shows that change doesn’t have to be bad. Eckstein urges readers to believe that every day is a new day to begin to realize their dreams. This is an incredibly strong closing that will rally readers.

The art: There are spot illustrations by Ashley Taylor and they are a delight. Disney characters and Star Wars characters punctuate the stories, providing the perfect accompaniment to what’s discussed. The characters range from cute, the princesses, to cool, the individuals and vehicles from Star Wars. Taylor’s work looks great.

The final line: An autobiography and a motivational book seamlessly blend as perfect reading fare. Eckstein’s history is interesting and enjoyable, while the motivational passages will hopefully spur the reader to make their dreams come true. Overall grade: A

To order a print or digital copy of this book go to https://www.amazon.com/Its-Your-Universe-Power-Happen-ebook/dp/B074518ZJB/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1526434674&sr=1-1&keywords=it%27s+your+universe+you+have+the+power+to+make+it+happen

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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