When it comes to tie-in merchandise I don’t think there’s anything out there that could possibly top Star Wars. The words “Star Wars” have been slapped on to everything from bed sheets to breakfast cereals. And it seems that every time I walk into a shop there’s another piece of Star Wars merchandise. Amongst all this merchandise are, literally, hundreds of books. I read a few of them when I was a kid, but I never really got into them. So I don’t actually pay that much attention to the release of Star Wars related books. But then, along came The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.
The first I heard about this book was via a short blog post by author Sandy Fussell (who writes the Samurai Kids books). I read the post and was intrigued. I mean, really… how can you not be intrigued by the title. Sandy’s post included a link to a guest post on the blog of author Cynthia Leitich Smith (author of numerous YA novels). This guest post was by Tom Angelberger, the writer of the Origami Yoda book. I followed the link and was delighted by Angelberger’s story of how the book came to be written and published. Go and read the post… it will persuade you to buy the book. I clicked away from that blog, straight to an online bookstore and purchased The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.
I received it in the mail, put it on to my must-read-soonish stack and forgot about it once I had placed a few review books on top of it. But a couple of weeks ago, I rediscovered it and read it. And glad to have read it, I am.
It is not a typical Star Wars book. It is not set in the Star Wars universe, or even in outer space. It is set in an ordinary American middle school where the kids encounter the wisdom and advice of an origami Yoda finger puppet.
Origami Yoda is brought to school by a particularly weird kid named Dwight. Any time anyone needs any advice, Dwight pops the puppet onto his finger and dispenses the advice with a very bad imitation of Yoda’s voice. Now, the thing is… Dwight is a bit thick, but Origami Yoda’s advice is wise. How could this be?
The book is a case file of incidents put together by sixth grade student, Tommy. As he says in the opening line, he wants the answer to “The big question: Is Origami Yoda real?” Or is Dwight just playing a joke on everyone? So he collects incident reports from a bunch of other students. Each student relates the story of when they got advice from Origami Yoda and what the outcomes were. It all concludes at a school dance, where Origami Yoda’s advice to Tommy will be put to the test.
It’s a really fun, unique book. Angelberger weaves a story with interesting characters, gentle humour, sage advice and a great deal of charm. Each of the kids in the story is well realised, but it is the character of Dwight who is the standout. His quirky personality steals the limelight, even from Origami Yoda. And the book concludes without too many explanations, which actually works really well. As I read the book, I was fearful that the author would be tempted to reveal too much… so was very relieved when he didn’t. The book was a joy to read and I recommend it to you, even if you’ve not much of a Star Wars fan.
Apparently, there is a sequel in the works, due out in 2011, and it looks like it will feature at least one other origami version of a Star Wars character. I must say that I think the book is perfect as it is, and I fear that a sequel may water down its effectiveness. But I’ll keep an open mind and read it when it’s released.
For more info about Origami Yoda and Tom Angelberger, check out the official website — www.origamiyoda.com
Oh, and just in case you’d like to make your very own origami Yoda, check out this video:
And tune in next time for some book trailers.
Catch ya later, George