Few but Dear Readers, I kid you not, when I saw this book's cover online, I had to buy it. I didn't even read the book's description. I just boooouuuuuuught it. And then I read it. And then I assigned it to my students.
As a child, I spent a coud three-ish years obsessed with the original Star Wars series.
Appetizer: To record the strange events of their school year, Tommy and a couple of his sixth grade friends put together a case study to determine whether the finger puppet made and used by an odd by named Dwight was really channeling the wisdom of Yoda or whether Dwight was sharing his own opinions and hitting on truths by chance.
Despite the fact that the book is set in middle school (6th grade), and that some "does he like me?" "Does she like me?" "Should I ask her to dance?" potential romances are at the heart of the story, Origami Yoda is very popular with a younger set of kids. Like second grade younger. (And it makes sense. The stories are episodic, which is good for read alouds with that age.)
I LOOOOOOOOOOVED this book! For realsies! Loved! It's a fast fun read. As I was going through it, I was SUPER impressed at how well Tom Angleberger captured a sense of childhood with his characters.
I liked the book is about a pseudo-anthropological study to try to understand that "weird" boy in the class. (And what school doesn't have a least one odd little duckling?) I like that the book included so many different voices (all though, all the different characters do have the potential to be overwhelming, especially since so many of them are introduced in the second chapter).
There are a lot of fun ways to use this book. There are A LOT of characters (29 by my count) so each student in the class can pick a character to become an expert on. Students could also have debates about whether or not they think Origami Yoda was real.
Also, I gave my students the extra credit option of making their own origami yodas. You'd be surprised at how many of them took up the option:
Here's a video of the author introducing how to make one:
Of course, there is one potential drawback to using this book? What about those poor peeps who haven't seen or have no interest in Star Wars? While this book can entertain a select group of readers on sight, it can send others running at the mere idea.
A few of my own students complained about having to be seen reading the book, since the cover so clearly included Yoda. (I personally have lost all sense of shame at being caught reading potentially embarrassing books, no matter the cover.)
"The big question: Is Origami Yoda real?
Well, of course he's real. I mean, he's a real finger puppet made out of a real piece of paper.
But I mean: Is he REAL? Does he really know things? Can he see the future? Does he use the Force?
Or is he just a hoax that fooled a whole bunch of us at McQuarrie Middle School?" (p. 1).
"Now, we had all seen Origami Yoda before, but this was the first time Dwight had asked us to talk to it. It was a historic moment, but I didn't know it then.
"Would you put that away?" hissed Harvey. "You're making us all look like losers."
"Fine," said Dwight, and he started to walk away. "I just thought Tommy needed some help."
"He needs all the help he can get," said Kellen. "What's your advice?"
"I don't have any advice," said Dwight. "But Origami Yoda does."
Then Dwight wiggled the finger puppet and made this weird, squeaky voice:
"Rush in fools do" (pp. 12-13).
"So, basically, Origami Yoda saved my butt!
That's when I started listening to Origami Yoda, and eventually a lot of other people did, too." (p. 15).
"...Except that to figure out Origami Yoda, I've also got to figure out Dwight. And I've got to figure out if Dwight is trying to trick me for being a jerk to him sometimes" (p. 39).
Tasty Rating: !!!!!