March Book Madness: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

This is part of my March Book Madness series, and although I usually feature student projects, today I am sharing out my own review of a book that a lot of my kids have read: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. And it won a Cybil Award this year, too.

I read this book yesterday, in between my wanderings as a proctor for our last day of our state testing. The book has been sitting on my desk for weeks now, and I have even used the how-to instructions in the back of the book to have our entire class create little Yodas that now decorate my whiteboard. (I meant to take a picture and forgot. It’s cute. All those little Yodas.)

The story centers on sixth graders, and one boy who declares that his origami version of Yoda gives advice independent of him. A kid asks, and the Yoda replies. The book is told from the viewpoint of one main character, but he has “assembled” it as a case book — with smaller stories from various characters — to determine if Yoda is real, or just a fake. The story moves towards the main character getting up enough nerve to ask a girl to dance.

What I liked here was the “voice” of the writing. It felt as if Angleberger really captured the voice of sixth graders, with all of their quirks and social awkwardness, and also, their ability to still believe in something that is clearly at odds with reality (a finger-sized Yoda who gives advice.) The plot weaves its way towards a nice ending that nicely ties things up.

The illustrations along the margins of pages was a hoot, and the use of things like text messages, notes from the principal, and more, added to the playful feel of the story. I wasn’t sure of what to make of the character of Dwight, whose Yoda is at the heart of the story. He is socially out of touch, great at math but little else, and often the brunt of cruel jokes and comments by others. Aspergers?

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is strange, but entertaining.

Peace (of this I say),

PS — Here, the author explains how YOU can make an origami Yoda. Give it a try.

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