Hello! We’re trying something new this time. See, we read this book together, then decided to review it via live chat. Here is the transcript, lightly edited for spelling and sanity.
Lisa: I can’t believe there’s a book where the title includes the words “origami Yoda.” At least Yoda’s face looks appropriately wrinkly and wise.
Jen: And there’s a Death Star, a TIE fighter and an X-wing on the front cover, too. I spent countless hours trying to draw tie fighters when I was learning about the Civil War.
Lisa: Why the Civil War?
Jen: Because that’s what I learned about in 5th grade.
Lisa: And that’s when you were introduced to Star Wars…
Jen: And so the saga begins.
Lisa: Confession: I don’t even like Star Wars that much. If I’d passed this book in a bookstore I would’ve thought it was some kind of movie tie-in or fan project.
But I like the back cover where it says, “Write this novel, Yoda told Tom Angleberger he must.”
Jen: The layout reminds me of the Wimpy Kid series. Wide ruled paper and doodles galore.
It’s an awesome premise: kids trying to figure out if the weirdo kid’s origami Yoda has special powers.
Jen: It feels a bit like a sitcom…that you read. And Tommy, the guy who’s collecting the case files, has a very authentic kid’s voice. “Is origami Yoda real?…I mean, he’s a real finger puppet made out of a real piece of paper. But I mean: is he REAL?”
It’s cute that he wants to be scientific about it…
in a proper experiment, they all ought to fold Yodas to cut down on person-to-person variability…
and origami Chewbaccas
and droids. But not the ones you’re looking for…
Lisa: Watch out for the sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back.
So, basic summary of Origami Yoda: each chapter is an example of when Yoda gave wise advice to his classmates.
Jen: But the origami Jedi behind Yoda is the awkward kid who “ruins it for the rest of the class”: Dwight.
Lisa: Dwight likes to dig holes in his backyard and sit in them for hours on end. Plus he’ll wear the same shirt for a month.
Jen: Eat thirteen servings of canned peaches and then barf in class….
Ask people to talk to the origami Yoda on his finger….
(which he carries everywhere with him!!!)
Lisa: Even the bathroom…
That’s one of the cases where Yoda does something genius:
Jen: This kid, Kellen, is late for class, but he’s accidentally splashed water over the front of his WHITE pants, which looks really unfortunate.
Lisa: I would never have thought to do what Yoda suggested. (We won’t give it away).
Jen: You mean, what Dwight suggested, right?
Lisa: I believe in Yoda
No, really, it was genius. I would’ve used a sweater to hide the stain or something
Jen: I would have stayed in the bathroom and risked getting a detention for tardiness…
Lisa: I thought Yoda was just a finger puppet b/c every example of his “wisdom” was plausible. Then he predicted a pop quiz…that’s inexplicable.
Jen: Are you going to quote Obi-wan?
“In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck!”
Lisa: Dwight really is smart. He’ll say weird things like “Tycho Brahe has a wax nose!”
Which is true–he did have a fake nose after the real one got cut off in a duel–but how many 6th graders know who Brahe was?
(Or adults who aren’t physicists).
Jen: Yeah, Dwight is probably more of a mystery than Yoda. What do you reckon is behind his behavior? which is decisively odd
Lisa: Maybe he just took longer to grow out of kindergarten antics and it made him an outcast.
Jen: Or it’s how his classmates expect him to behave…
like Cheeto Hog.
Lisa: aka Quavondo. He got a packet of Cheetos once and wouldn’t share it with 20 ppl b/c he was hungry. Yoda-Dwight got him to buy Cheetos for the whole school. People forgave him then.
It’s actually nice to read a book about “normal” sixth-grade life. There’s no existential angst (or paranormal romance).
Jen: Still, everything culminates at the PTA School Dance when Tommy must ask Yoda a Very Important Question.
Lisa: Related to a girl, of course.
Jen: Will Tommy trust Dwight-Yoda enough to act on his Very Important Answer?…Yoda’s record has been impeccable so far…
Lisa: Harvey would disagree. He folds a rival Yoda because he thinks he can give better advice.
Jen: And do a better Yoda impression.
If there was a bad guy in this book, it would have to be Harvey, and he’s more insensitive than Eee-vil (with a Sir Alec Guiness accent). But all the kids take turns being villainous, I suppose. Towards Dwight and towards each other.
Lisa: There’s no “justice” in the traditional sense, either.
Jen: Plus, the moral isn’t spelled out for you. There almost isn’t one…and yet you know right away when a character crosses the line…
Are we trying to read too much into this book?
The way Tommy is about origami Yoda’s authenticity?
Lisa: Probably. I think we’re annoyingly scrutinizing a book that’s FUN and involves pretty normal 6th grade life.
Jen: Speaking of fun, the illustrations will please hardcore SW fans.
The froggy-looking creature in the American Idol chapter was airlifted from Jabba’s palace. She sings a jazzy sequence in the extended version.
And the pop quiz chapter has a cross-section of a leaf. It reminds me of an old science project…but better because it has the Millennium Falcon in a space fight!
Lisa: I like the crazy squirrels! from when Dwight got stuck in a janitor’s closet and was screaming for squirrels to rescue him.
And that Yoda pretends not to know about the Star Wars movies.
(“What a Jawa is?”)
and when someone mentions “A New Hope,” he says, “In that movie I was not.”
Alas, this was all that Artoo had on record. The bloggers have stated their case for reading Origami Yoda (2010 Cybils Winner for middle grade fiction!). Now the choice is yours. Or…you could ask Yoda himself. Search your feelings, you know you want to =)