Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
By Tom Angleberger
Published 2010 by Amulet

Since moving to Texas and starting work at a library, I’ve been made aware of the Texas Bluebonnet Awards. These are similar to many other state-sponsored children’s book awards in that kids are provided with a set of titles, they read a certain number of them, and then they are eligible to vote on their favorite. It’s always a good idea to familiarize oneself with such awards when working someplace where you might be asked about them frequently, such as a library. However, between all the other books I was reading and the great demand on these titles, I didn’t get a chance to read them until recently. Of course, this particular one I’d been curious about and wanting to read anyway, but this bumped it up on the list.

Dwight is a weird kid – pretty much everyone agrees on that. But when he starts wearing an origami Yoda finger puppet and dispensing surprisingly wise advice, Tommy and his friends start to wonder – is Dwight secretly a genius? Or is he really just a weirdo who happens to notice coincidences? So, Tommy and his friends do the most logical thing they can think of – compile a casebook of the evidence and leave it up to you to decide.

This book is so much fun and I think that’s what Angleberger was going for here. It’s totally bizarre and hilarious and fragmented and it really works for the audience it’s geared toward (or at least, I think it does). This book is great for the short attention spans that permeate our youth today because it’s told as episodes, which are short and pretty well self-contained. However, I like that there is also an overall arc to the story – and it’s not just solving the case of Origami Yoda. This book may be an ode to our society’s persistent love of Star Wars but it’s also a book that deftly handles the complexities of being a tween. There is so much life stuff to figure out when you’re twelve that it would be wonderful to have a wise finger puppet that could tell you what you should do. I also like that Angleberger leaves it up to the reader to decide the truth about Origami Yoda – something that will really get kids engaged and talking about this book. As an awesome bonus, the instructions for crafting your own Origami Yoda are included. I really loved this book and can’t wait to read more from Angleberger.

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