Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Review-The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Author: Tom Angleberger
Publisher: Amulet Books (April 1, 2010)
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Description from GoodReads:
In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel.

From the time I first purchased this book, I have had a hard time keeping my hands on it. First my niece took my copy and read it, and then one of my teacher's son swiped it from my office. Even when I purchased a second copy, it seemed that more students kept wanting to borrow it. This is a great sign for the book, but it wasn't boding well for my getting to read it. When one of my copies came finally came back, I resorted to hiding it so I could finally read it myself.

In The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Tommy is determined to figure out if Dwight is pulling a fast one on all his classmates or if his created puppet has the wisdom and insight of Yoda. Tommy is your typical sixth grader with the regular concerns about schoolwork, and whether the girl he likes actually likes him back. Dwight is a bit of an outsider or oddball among this group of students and somewhat strange. Most would say he isn't bright enough to actually dispense Yoda like advice? Should the others take his advice or stay far away?

The story unfolds as a collection of first-hand experiences that the students have had with Dwight and his Origami Yoda puppet. These snippets are sprinkled with doodles/caricatures of the students and side comments from Harvey (another student who doesn't believe in Origami Yoda). What unfolds is a series of situations that are plain hysterical. It truly does seem that Origami Yoda is wiser than his creator but will Tommy listen to the advice and ask Sarah to dance?

The short chapters, the funny scenarios, and the doodles all make for an attractive read. I was amazed how many of my independent 2nd graders readers actually devoured this book quickly and found it fascinating. My 4th to 6th graders grasped it on a totally different level but found it equally engaging. This is one of my top middle grade reads of 2010 and makes for a great gift.

Who would I recommend this to: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a great next step for fans of The Diary of A Wimpy Kid or Big Nate.
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~