It would be an understatement to say that Dwight is not a popular kid at school. He has awkward social skills and a way of making people around him feel uncomfortable. He gets in trouble, picks his nose, always "ruins it" for everyone (according to his teachers). But one day he comes to school with an origami finger puppet he designed and folded himself, a finger puppet Yoda that starts giving other people advice and even, it seems, predicting the future. While no one really wants to talk to Dwight, everyone wants to talk to Origami Yoda.
Is Yoda a supernatural creation, truly able to predict the future? The jury is out. But Tommy wants to find out, and not just because he's curious. Yoda has given him some very strange advice, and Tommy needs to make a decision about whether or not to follow it. The consequences will be major, and Tommy isn't sure what to do. So he gets the kids in his class who have had dealings with Origami Yoda to tell their stories, and he's compiled them into a case file. The book is illustrated by Tommy's friend Kellen, and the stories and pictures make for a very appealing package. I brought this home from the library, and my 10-year-old immediately made off with it and wouldn't let me read it till she finished. (And she enjoyed it immensely.)
At first it seemed this was going to be a light and funny read, with some humor that was perhaps a bit mean-spirited. But as the case file unfolded, with stories about interactions with Origami Yoda told from different points of view, it became clear that this is no simple, funny school story. It can be read on that level, of course, but there is unexpected depth here. The relationships between the kids at school are much more complex than is usually depicted in this sort of book, and there is a lot here to make readers think, particularly about their assumptions about the kids they may be sitting next to in class. Don't get me wrong - this is by no means a heavy-handed Message kind of book - it is sweet and funny, with enough crude and silly humor to please young readers, but there's more to it than that. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I've been recommending it to kids at my library, who have all been very pleased with it. I haven't read this authors' books before, but I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of his work.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (Amulet Books, 2010)
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Becky's Book Reviews: "I enjoyed this one. It was a fun story with a cute premise. In times it's very silly--other times more serious."
MotherReader: "I found it to be more enjoyable than blowing up a Death Star. And blowing up a Death Star, that’s fun."
Sassymonkey Reads: "The stories in the book felt to me like they were things my friends and I would have done at that age."