Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda--Tom Angleberger
March 2010 by Amulet Books
145 pages--Goodreads

Meet Dwight, a sixth-grade oddball. Dwight does a lot of weird things, like wearing the same T-shirt for a month or telling people to call him "Captain Dwight." This is embarrassing, particularly for Tommy, who sits with him at lunch every day.

But Dwight does one cool thing. He makes origami. One day he makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. And that's when things get mysterious. Origami Yoda can predict the future and suggest the best way to deal with a tricky situation. His advice actually works, and soon most of the sixth grade is lining up with questions.

Tommy wants to know how Origami Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. Is Yoda tapping into the Force? It's crucial that Tommy figure out the mystery before he takes Yoda's advice about something VERY IMPORTANT that has to do with a girl.

This is a fun quick read in a less traditional format.  It's presented as a case file, a collection of incidents different kids have with the Origami Yoda.  Tommy compiles the case file to decide whether or not Origami Yoda has powers.  His friends chime in with their opinions with doodles and notes in the margins.  The ending is unexpected, but satisfying.

The characters sound and act like real sixth graders.  The book is very readable, though younger readers may have a hard time keeping track of the large cast of characters.  Each kid gets their own distinct font, which may help readers keep characters straight and it's just a fun extra touch. The instructions to make your own Origami Yoda are fun as well.

You can certainly make the case that the book has a good message (standing up for friends, self confidence, etc) but that makes the book sound like a Sunday School lesson and takes away from its fun.  Sure those themes are there, but they aren't presented overhandedly.  It's just a fun book.  Plain and simple.  And there are sequels.

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