Friday, August 12, 2011

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

"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? Or is he just a hoax that fooled a whole bunch of us at McQuarrie Middle School? It's really important for me to figure out if he's real. Because I've got to decide whether to take his advice or not, and if I make the wrong choice, I'm doomed!"
So begins Tommy's case file, a notebook in which he has compiled the stories of his fellow students and their encounters with Origami Yoda. Origami Yoda inhabits the finger of 6th grade weirdo Dwight and is dispensing advice to students. Advice that couldn't possibly really be coming from Dwight because Origami Yoda is way smarter than he is. It is very important to Tommy, whose social future depends on whether or not Origami Yoda gives good advice. In The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Tom Angleberger delivers an insightful look into the complex social workings of a sixth grade class and the experience that is middle school.
Every once in a while I come across a book that makes me sad I no longer have a room full of fifth graders to feed it to. This is one such book. Let me tell you, they would fight over it like a pack of starving hyenas. Not just the boys either. Oh no, this is one of the books you can put in the hands of any kid (or adult) and it is guaranteed to be enjoyed. It will be best enjoyed by those who are familiar with the character of Yoda, but you don't have to be a Star Wars fanatic to appreciate the book*. And there is so much to appreciate. The point of view switches between the kids contributing to the file are done well. Each section written by a different person is done in a different font and the characters come across as genuine, both boys and girls. The book is a mystery where clues to the nature of Origami Yoda are given and analyzed. It is also a real and humorous look at the awkwardness that is sixth grade. And far outshining all the other awkward middle schoolers is Dwight, creator and keeper of Origami Yoda.

Most important though is this: THIS BOOK IS HILARIOUS! Not mildly funny, but side hurting, rolling on the floor, laugh out loud funny. To confirm the truthfulness of this and ensure it wasn't just me, I read several passages to my husband. His reaction confirmed it. Accompanying the story are amusing illustrations added to the case file by Tommy's friend Kellan.   All together it is a perfect package of fun reading. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

ETA: I only just now discovered there will be a sequel coming out next month! It is titled Darth Paper Strikes Back . I am almost a little afraid that it might spoil the fun of this original story but it won't stop me from reading it.

*Although people who don't know their Star Wars will miss some of the jokes, like this particular gem:
Q: Hey, Origami Yoda, have you seen that totally hilarious YouTube video where Chewbacca dances with a Jawa?
A: What a Jawa is?
Q: You know, a Jawa. One of those little guys from the first movie.
A: What this movie is?
Q: Star Wars!
A: What?
Q: Episode Four! A New Hope! Star Wars, dude!
A: In that movie I was not.

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