Thursday, August 25, 2011
The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda Review
Book talk: Dwight has always been strange, but lately he's been acting even stranger than usual. He has made an origami Yoda finger puppet and started talking to people with it. His Yoda impression isn't even that good! But all that is pretty typical for Dwight--the really strange thing is that it actually works! Yoda has predicted a pop quiz, saved a kid from embarrassment at a school dance, and always seems to know what's going to happen. How can origami Yoda be so smart when Dwight is so dumb? Before Tommy decides whether or not to take origami Yoda's advice he has to get all the facts straight to see if origami Yoda really can predict the future or if it's just another prank.
Rocks my socks: Of course my favorite character is Dwight. I enjoyed watching the other kids in the book realize that maybe Dwight actually is a good guy to hang around with even if he does act strangely. The faux hand-written notebook paper with doodles style is also a good selling point because it's very popular now thanks to Diary of a Wimpy Kid although I remember enjoying it ever since I read Amelia's Notebooks as a kid. One of my favorite parts was when origami Yoda told kids to learn the twist and they all ended up having fun. Anything to prevent the painfully awkward swaying so prevalent at middle-school dances!
Rocks in my socks: Tommy gathers the testimony of his friends and he has his friend Harvey add comments at the end as the 'resident skeptic' to provide a balanced view. I appreciate the attempt to include skepticism here but it is very poorly executed. Harvey isn't a true skeptic, he's just mean and the way he acts in the story and his comments just reinforce a negative stereotype of skeptics being annoying know-it-alls. I have a lot of respect for the skeptic movement, so this aspect of the story really disappointed me--especially because even though Tommy does goes about it all wrong he does have a point: origami Yoda clearly is not a sentient being that can see into the future. The story shouldn't end on the conclusion that Yoda is right, it should end with the realization that Dwight is actually a really cool guy and deserves to be listened to with or without a finger puppet and messed up syntax.
Every book its reader: Fans of Star Wars and humor will enjoy this tale of absurdity. The cartoon style looks very young, but the characters are in 6th grade and dealing with dating and dances. I know some 3rd and 4th graders who would enjoy it just for the origami Yoda shtick, but I think it will be better appreciated by 5th or 6th graders who can relate to the high drama of boy/girl dances better. The text is simple with illustrations throughout so it's a good high-interest/low-reading level pick.
The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Buy it at your local indie book store or check it out at your local library