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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Darth Paper Strikes Back, written and illustrated by Tom Angleberger. Amulet, Abrams. Canadian Manda Group, 2011. $14.95 ages 10 and up

"Dwight was just sort of staring at his food. He's been kind of depressed since Caroline, this girl he really liked, started going to this private school, Tippett Academy. So Dwight was moping around a lot, but he was still willing to let us ask Origami Yoda questions, which proves he's a really nice guy. He raised a finger, and there was Origami Yoda, ready to go."

Now I know why the hype for The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. I did not read it, but am thinking that I had better get my hands on a copy. While the second installment can be read without the first, it would add drama and background for this seventh grade of tale of what happens following the sixth grade year and the intelligence and wisdom that Origami Yoda had shared with so many.

Seventh grade has barely had time to get underway when disaster strikes:

And then he goes, "Bom bom bom bom-ba-bomb bom-ba-bomb." Vader's theme.
And he sticks out his hand and there it is: an origami Darth Vader, made out of black paper, with shiny silver eyes and a red paper lightsaber."

Trouble has arrived in enemy form and the students turn to Origami Yoda for advice and guidance. Yoda is enmeshed in an unwanted battle with the dark side. Harvey wants to prove that Origami Yoda is fake and to that end, he wants Dwight, his creator, gone. When a cheerleader reports offensive advice given, Dwight and his puppet are suspended:

"Out of school kicked we have been."

Tommy and Kellen take it upon themselves to gather a 'case file' that will prove Dwight's innocence and have his suspension dropped. They will present the case file at a school board meeting. To that end, they gather evidence in written form from their classmates, expounding on the advice given and the value of both to his friends. Tommy gathers the stories, adding comments and allowing Harvey to have a say as well. Kellen is the artist, providing humor and pithy captions.

The drama is relevant to this book's audience and is sure to entertain. The many Star Wars references attest to its lasting impact on a new generation of movie-goers, and middle grade readers. Yoda has engaging wisdom to share, each remark is outlined to make them easy to find and revisit. Get this into the hands of 10-14 year olds on the first day in your class, and they'll be hooked and wanting your advice about what to read next. What a start to a new school year!

August is almost here! Be on the lookout for The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, third book in the quirky and oh such fun series.

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