Sixth grader Tommy's "out there" friend Dwight has an origami Yoda finger puppet. Through Dwight, who tends to wear odd combinations of clothing, pick his nose and chew with his mouth open, Yoda dispenses cryptic advice. Tommy is a bit conflicted. He's dying to ask Yoda if his crush likes him. He thinks that he'd like to be Dwight's friend too, but Dwight's his own worst enemy. Still, the way he and his classmates treat Dwight is not usually kind.
Tommy decides to study this Yoda phenomenon methodically and begins a case file, in which, everyone who has consulted Yoda weighs in, complete with color commentary by super-skeptic Harvey and illustrations by Kellen. The pages are designed to look like crumpled paper, each classmate's anecdote is in a different font. The illustrations are inserted in margins and spaces and text is highlighted with hand-drawn circles and commentary. The overall effect lends the reader to feel like the case-file has passed through many hands. The design is sure to hook Wimpy Kid fans and reluctant readers.
Middle school drama and dynamics are portrayed fairly accurately and the overall tone is less cynical than Wimpy Kid. It's quick and quirky and sure to be popular. When I was browsing in my local, independent book store recently, a boy of about ten or eleven bounded in, ran straight past the floor display that stood near the door, to the cashier asking if they had Origami Yoda. She informed him that they did. He turned around, shot to the door and shouted out, "Yes, they do!" to a mother who was apparently double-parked. I guess she found a space, because, a few minutes later, she came in to pay for the book. He left with a smile on his face, clutching the book (no bag) in his hands.
Instructions for folding one's own origami Yoda are at the back of the book. For those of you who find following written origami folding instructions difficult and who need to see origami folded, here's a link to a You-Tube video produced by Abrams, of the author folding origami Yoda.
- (89) The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (MG)