Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda by Tom Angelberger (Children's Literature Novel)

Angelberger, Tom. The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda. Abrams. 2010. (150 pages)
An eccentric boy named Dwight folds an origami Yoda finger puppet, which he uses to dispense wisdom to his fellow 6th graders. Tommy, the main narrator of the book, creates a case file to investigate what impact this figure has made. Students offer testimonials and opinions in this unique and engaging book.
There was a lot to absorb in this book. There are many narrators, many doodle illustrations, many styles of writing (from a sample text message to transcribed words from a tape recorder and more), and even many different fonts! It’s interesting that I read this on the same day that we read Make Way for Ducklings in class, because both books may represent opposite sides of a spectrum: styles which people dub “modern” or “old-fashioned”. This book seemed very modern to me – the speed, stimulation, and information from many sources almost mimicked a smart phone internet browser.
When I was finished with the book, I gave it to my 6th grade son to read. He read it in one sitting! I asked him what he thought about it, and he said he loved it. When I asked why, he said, “I liked the comments at the end. Also it’s quirky. And original. And I liked the little pictures on the sides.” I believe that most kids would feel this way, and I think it would be a great book to use as a language arts teacher. It’s interesting to see the interplay between the abstract thinking of Tommy and the concrete, or “black-and-white” thinking of his friend Harvey. I think that this could be a great source of classroom discussion in a 5th or 6th grade classroom.

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