One of the joys (and dangers) of working at Barnes and Noble is actually having contact with the books that I would otherwise just read about in my professional journals. And, I confess, it is hard for me to say no to an interesting book. Predictably, I spend a significant portion of each paycheck on the new "most interesting" books.
Last week, I saw a display for The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. I couldn't walk past. Flipping it through it, I saw the dream book of any 12-yr-old boy.
Origami Yoda is about some 6th grade kids whose very odd friend (he has Aspergers, although it is never stated outright) makes an origami Yoda finger puppet that gives surprisingly good advice. The mystery of the book is trying to figure out if Origami Yoda is real, by some sort of mystical power, or if he is just the odd boy sharing insights.
The beauty of this book is that Tom Angleberger truly remembers what is like to be an awkward 6th grader. The characters are sixth-grade-like and relateable without being stereotypical.
The story is told as a series of episodes, from the perspectives of various students, about interacting with Origami Yoda. The book pages look like wadded paper that has been smoothed out. The main character, Tommy, illustrates the pages in doodle style. After each Yoda episode, the case is analyzed by Harvey, a kid who refuses to believe in Origami Yoda, and by Tommy, who is trying to remain neutral.
This book has the warmth of Frindle, the silliness and style of Captain Underpants, and the personality of the Lemony Snicket series. It's a perfect book for a 4th-7th grade boy, and it's a great reluctant reader. But anyone who likes fun books about kids should love this book. Fortunately, there are two more books in is series, Darth Paper Strikes Again and The Secret of the Fortune Cookie Wookie (available for order), and I can't wait to read them!