Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Dwight is a weird kid and therefore considered a loser by many of his classmates. Tommy and his friends are not much higher on the social totem pole, but at least they try to avoid potentially embarrassing situations. This is not easy to do in middle school when you always strike out playing softball in P.E. or your pants get wet in an awkward location or you really want to ask a girl to dance.

Unexpectedly, Dwight’s weirdness offers possible solutions when he tells the other kids to ask his origami Yoda finger-puppet for advice.  But can Tommy really trust Origami Yoda’s advice on a matter of great importance? Is the finger puppet magic? Or is it just Dwight messing with them? How can Origami Yoda seem so wise when Dwight seems so clearly clueless?

To help him decide, Tommy puts together a case file with stories from classmates who asked Yoda’s advice. His skeptical friend Harvey adds his rather mean comments and eventually makes his own advice-giving origami Yoda. In the end, Tommy has to decide whether to trust weird Dwight’s Yoda and risk embarrassment or listen to negative Harvey’s Yoda and play it safe.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a fun, quick read, illustrated with doodles and instructions for making your own origami Yoda.  The audiobook is well done, with five narrators for the different kids who contribute to Tommy’s case file. The embarrassing situations are true-to-life, and the questions of whether it is okay to be weird, to be mean, to take chances, or to hide behind criticism add real depth to the story.

Author's web site:
Sequel: Darth Paper Strikes Back (Published August 23, 2011)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Paul Fisher is legally blind and an outstanding soccer goalie. He’s been told that he stared at an eclipse too long but has no memory of how his eyes were damaged. He fears his older brother Eric while their parents seem oblivious to any threat.  These contradictions pulled me right into Tangerine by Edward Bloor.

When the family moves to Florida, their new town of Tangerine adds to the mystery: the continual muck fires, disappearing koi, a student struck by lightning, and a massive sinkhole.  Paul finds his way around these hazards as he joins the soccer team at Tangerine Middle School - the school on the other side of the figurative tracks from his middle class subdivision.

Paul is a clear-sighted and honorable character surrounded by a family absorbed in their own concerns and dreams.  The mysteries and citizens of Tangerine provide a complex and rich world where Paul can seek his own place and perhaps a clearer view into his own past.

Author site: