May 13, 2010
Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel.
What a fun book! For me this was a really quick read - I started it last night. But part of the reason it was quick was because I couldn't put it down! Like Tommy and the students in his class, I had to find it if Origami Yoda was real and if he should be believed.
I liked the main narrator Tommy a lot. I think many boys could relate to him. He's in a constant state of uncertainty. Should he ask the girl he likes to dance? Should he be friends with Dwight? Should he listen to Harvey (more on him later!) and most importantly - Should he believe in Origami Yoda? He takes the scientific approach. The stories in the book are his case study on the advice Yoda has given - they are his evidence. But even with all of them, in the end Tommy has to figure out what HE believes - not what his friends believe.
Dwight is quite the character - he would be considered the odd kid of the class who becomes even odder when an origami Yoda he made starts giving out advice. The interesting thing about Dwight is that I got the feeling he was way smarter than he let on. Through Yoda he gives this fantastic advice but then does something completely off the wall like handing Tommy a wad of never signed In-School Suspense slips and answering yes or no questions with the word purple! I kept thinking either this kid was super odd or an amazing genius! As the story went along I began to see the wisedom of his ways and (shhhhh don't tell anyone!) but I kinda wanted to ask Yoda a question! To tell you the truth I still don't know what to make of Dwight, but his charachter just goes to show that great advice can come in strange ways. Something I think even Tommy was figuring out in the end.
Tommy has a friend named Harvey. The role that Harvey plays is to argue against Tommy's evidence and make sure to confuse Tommy as much as he can. He's constantly pointing out problems with Yoda's advice and arguing they are all crazy for believing in Origami Yoda. Tommy wants to do the right thing, but Harvey is constantly confusing him and making it diffucult. At one point Harvey goes as far as creating is own Origami Yoda because he thinks he can do it better. This causes even more confusing for Tommy. I think many students have a friend like Harvey and maybe by watching Tommy deal with him they could learn how to deal with the Harvey's in their life.
As far as the ending goes, it was satisfying. I was very happy to see how it all worked out, and how Origami Yoda's advice came all together. At the end I really wondered if Dwight was a genius! The ending didn't give me all the answers. I had to come to my own conclusion on many of my questions- something some students may find frustrating. BUT I think that is the better ending. Tommy had to decide on his own whether to believe in Origami Yoda or not and so should the reader :)
Final Thought: Read it you should.
Best stick-with-you image: Middle schoolers doing the twist
Best for ages: 10-13