The Strange Case of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

I have to be upfront with you. This review is not about The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. Well, it is, but it’s really about the strange case of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. And it involves Ryan.

Ryan is a 7th-grade student of mine. I’ve known him for about a month now. Ryan, by his own admission, does not like to read. He’s read The Hunger Games and he liked it, but he’s not someone who will read something for him (not because his friends are reading it or there’s a movie coming out).

So one day, Origami Yoda comes into my classroom. Ryan’s ears perk up, much like Origami Yoda’s ears do. He is the first to check the book out.

THE NEXT DAY, Ryan says to the whole class that this book is the best book he’s ever read. EVER. READ. He’s not finished, but already there’s a waiting list growing.

THE NEXT NEXT DAY (actually, the following Monday, because the previous school day was a Friday), Ryan takes advantage of a pause in class to say the following to me: “I just want to thank you for buying this book, because I don’t like to read, and I love this book. A lot. And you have inspired me to read the series. Since you don’t have The Fortune Wookie, I’m going to go buy it.” [Side note: when one student asked him where he was going to buy it, he said Nicola’s Books. Support your local independent bookstores!] At this point, there’s a noticeable buzz in the classroom. Ryan’s classmates know he’s not really a reader. He’s way more concerned about sports (currently: football) than he is about reading. But he is taking the time out of class to sing the praises of a book? There’s gotta be something magical about this book.

And that brings me to my next Ryan-centered point. I am requiring my students to read from different genres this year. So, of course, they’re asking what genre Origami Yoda is. I say it’s realistic fiction. Ryan steps up and says: “Well, maybe. It depends. We don’t really know yet.” [Another side note: at this point in the conversation, Ryan is most of the way through Darth Paper Strikes Back. It’s also been less than a week.]

So now, in a week’s time, Ryan has gone from someone who doesn’t really read to someone able to intelligently discuss the genre qualifications of a book. Oh, and he asked me if I could pass on a note of frustration to Tom Angleberger (and his publisher). So here I shall do so. Ryan is upset that he cannot purchase these books on an e-reader.

I must revise my previous paragraph. In a week’s time, Ryan has gone from someone who doesn’t really read to someone able to intelligently discuss the genre qualifications of a book and is finding himself indignant over the ability to easily purchase the books he needs to feed his now insatiable appetite.

This book is a gem. I don’t know when I’ll see it again on my bookshelves.

 

Oh, did you want a review from me? We’ll go quickly. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a book about a group of 6th grade friends, one of whom creates an origami finger puppet that looks like Yoda. This finger puppet then begins answering questions, many of which turn out to be right! The book itself is a series of testimonials about Origami Yoda, from those who believe and those who don’t. What is the truth? Read to find out you must.

My rating: 5 out of 5 fish. 

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

Sometimes a book is just so fascinating a concept, you can’t help but read it. Chopsticks is definitely one of those.

Told entirely through pictures, there is definitely a new mold being cast with this one. I wasn’t really certain what to expect going in, but I had a feeling I would like it.

I was not wrong.

We begin our story with clips from a newscast about a missing girl — world-famous piano prodigy Glory Fleming. Then we skip back to 18 months earlier. Clearly, there’s more to this story than just a missing person.

We see Glory’s upbringing, and her father pushing her to piano performances, and Glory (Gloria, actually) enjoying them. But of course, things change. They always do.

Enter Francisco.

He moves in next door, and he and Gloria soon hit it off. But then Gloria is off to tour Europe.

You know what, I need to stop this review. I can’t do this book justice. I’m trying to talk about it as if it’s a normal book. It’s not. It doesn’t deserve a normal review.

This book is not about the story. I mean, okay, it is. But it’s about how it’s told. Pictures. Letters. Memos. This story is told through emotions rather than through words. This book is something different, and it’s wonderful.

I think this book is a perfect fit for a high schooler who feels a little different. Or a college student who has that certain level of artsy whimsy. The story is really a timeless one (sort of Romeo & Juliet-esque), but it’s never been told this way. Check it out. It’ll probably take you less than an hour.

A few risqué images should probably keep this out of a middle school classroom, but I’d say it’s okay high school and older.

Personally, I loved this book and I hope to see more stories told this way in the future. It’s just too neat not to do.

My rating: 5 out of 5 fish.