A few weeks ago my friend Franki asked me if I had read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. Ashamed I was that I hadn't even heard of it. So naturally I decided I needed to look into this book (Franki has this directly matter-of-fact way of making me do things I might not normally do. Don't you both admire and despise people who can do that to you?)
Well, I really enjoyed Origami Yoda even though it is not the type of story I normally read. All character driven conversation, no action usually makes me a bored reader.
Angleberger pieces together a loose plot based on the idea that a rather peculiar boy, Dwight, has an origami Yoda finger puppet that dispenses unsolicited advice to his classmates. The narrator of the book, Tommy decides to investigate whether or not the Origami Yoda is "real" or a hoax. The story unfolds with Tommy sharing his investigation through case files. Sometimes he is the author and other times his classmates takes over.
Angleberger's style reminds me a little of Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) in the sense that each "case" is it's own little tale and the writing tries to mimic what a typical middle schooler would sound like. As you read the cases, Origami Yoda is able to share life lessons through a string of amusing incidents that I think most 4th-7th graders would relate to quite easily. These scenes include the prospect of cheating, getting water on your pants that looks like you wet yourself and whether or not a girl thinks you are cute.
I think Origami Yoda will be a big hit at my school in the fall. The cover alone will draw kids in when they see it in the library or classrooms. Then the first few lines will be enough to hook most kids.
"The big question: Is origami Yoda real? Well, of course he’s real. I mean, he’s a real finger puppet made out of a real piece of paper. But I mean: Is he REAL? Does he really know things? Can he see the future? Does he use the force?"
I can think of many kids I will encourage to read Origami Yoda. I just wish that the writing was a little stronger. But when you are trying to sound like a 6th grader, I guess you can't be a wordsmith. Entertained I was by reading The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda, so complain I shouldn't about the writing.
As an added bonus, try making your own Origami Yoda: