Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review - The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda by Tom Angelberger (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fiction
Size: 160 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: March 1, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0810984257
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Origami Yoda series
Source: Swapped through paperbackswap.com
Rating: 4/5 stars

I have been wanting to read this book for some time and finally got around to it. This book does an absolutely wonderful job of portraying the politics of sixth grade and some of the strangeness that goes with it all.

Tommy has an acquaintance (friend?) Dwight who is a total loser. Dwight gives advice to people with a origami puppet of Yoda that he wears on his finger. The odd thing is that origami Yoda gives strangely...almost eerily...excellent advice. How can Dwight be such a loser when his Origami Yoda is so wise? Through a series of case studies provided by his classmates (and goofy pictures provided by one of Tommy’s friends) we get to see the affect of Yoda’s advice on the sixth grade class.

This book is definitely targeted at middle grade boys, so I am not the target audience at all. Still I enjoyed the book and thought it was cleverly put together. It does give great insight into sixth grade politics and the story is strangely compelling as we follow along and try to figure out what is up with this Origami Yoda.

The characters are all very realistic, which at times doesn’t make them all that easy to like. Still they all have good and bad aspects to their personalities and are all very easy to relate too. Tommy is on the fringes of the crowd, he is kind of a geek but he’s not as bad off as Dwight is.

Dwight is fascinating, he give super wise advice through his finger puppet Yoda, but he himself is strange, abrasive and incredibly tough to get along with. You keep wondering what’s going on in his head.

The story is compelled forward by a common and a not so common theme. The common one is will Tommy get the girl he’s dreaming of? The not so common one is how does this Origami Yoda give such great advice?

The author does an excellent job of giving the stories by different kids individual personalities; you can tell each Yoda story is being told by a different kid with a unique voice. The pictures are amusing and there is a lot of middle grade humor here.

The book touches on a number of great topics (friendship, being different, general school social structure) without ever taking itself too seriously.

The book is well written and engaging. It didn’t blow me away, but I think that is partly because I wasn’t the intended age group. Still I did find it to be a quick and fun read. The book also has instructions on making an origami Yoda in the back, which was fun.

Overall a fun and well done coming-of-age type story. It is done in a creative way; basically a number of stories about the Origami Yoda are provided by the kids in Tommy’s class. There is a lot of humor, yet the story touches on serious issues as well. This would be a great read for a middle grade boy; young adults and older will find it amusing and find themselves thinking about all the weirdos in their sixth grade class. I will definitely pick up Darth Paper Strikes Back to read at some point.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- TBR Pile Reading Challenge


  1. I'm looking forward to this series. :) I'm planning to teach middle school and realized recently that I don't read enough "boy books," so hopefully this will lead me to more! It's nice to hear that the characters seem realistic as sixth graders; it's always annoying to read characters who don't act their age! Great review.

    Randi @ Cardigans, Coffee and Bookmarks

  2. Hi Randi,
    Glad you enjoyed the review! I hope that you enjoy the book when you read it. I thought the sixth graders were realistic and am interested in hearing if sixth graders think it is realistic too...