Wednesday, November 2, 2011

REVIEW: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Summary: When their weird classmate Dwight begins to wear an origami finger puppet and claims that Origami Yoda can predict the future, sixth-grader Tommy and his friends decide to keep a case book of their encounters with Dwight's puppet so that they can determine whether the predictions are accurate. This book includes instructions for constructing your own Origami Yoda.

Tracy's Thoughts: 

First, a confession: I am not much of a Star Wars fan. I mean, I've seen the original movie (now dubbed "Episode IV") and the even the second (i.e., Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back). It was at Governor's Scholars in 1996 a long time ago, and I really don't remember much beyond the most iconic moments that are probably familiar more from various spoofs than from the actual films. I do remember finding Yoda rather annoying. So, despite all the glowing reviews, I approached Tom Angleberger's book with (I think) understandable hesitation. And found it adorable and really, really funny.

Despite the title, you don't have to be familiar with the Star Wars universe to enjoy this book, though a love of all things Jedi and Yoda-like philosophy will certainly heighten its appeal. The format, with various characters' first-person accounts and its humorous drawings, is sure to attract Dairy of a Wimpy Kid fans. There is also a similar humor and camaraderie reminiscent of Kinney's uber-popular series. And yet Angleberger's characters and stories have a distinctive flavor of their own.

Dwight is an awkward, loner-type nerd who uses a finger puppet to communicate with his classmates. His Yoda impression isn't the best, but the advice and predictions made by Origami Yoda are downright uncanny. Soon the whole sixth-grade class is vying for Dwight's attention and debating the power of Origami Yoda. The main narrator, Tommy, is a likable, relatable character who isn't sure what to believe while his best friend Harvey is staunchly cynical about the whole thing. The interactions between the characters and their willingness to follow the cryptic advice of a paper finger puppet are somehow believable and hilarious. All in all, this is a fun, quick read with wide appeal—whether you are a Star Wars fan or not.

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