Tom Angleberger’s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a novel released in 2010, and is the first in a series of origami themed Star Wars books with wonderful puns like “Darth Paper” and “ART2-D2.” The book centers around a group of students at McQuarrie Middle School. One day, a boy named Dwight, who is quite eccentric, brings in an origami finger puppet and uses it to start giving surprisingly helpful advice to other students. Dwight is usually a pretty clueless guy, so the students around him believe that this Yoda puppet may have special powers for all of the advice that its been able to give (perhaps the title is a nod to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in this respect, pointing to the duality of man). Tommy and Kellen, believe its real, while Harvey, a boy driven by science, attempts to disprove Origami Yoda’s powers.
The book is written as a series of case files from many different students explaining encounters with the Yoda puppet, with each one having its own unique fonts, writing style, and illustrations, giving the book its own colorful appearance. In fact, the pages are even printed with a wrinkled design to give the impression that they’ve been left crumpled up in a backpack, adding to the authenticity of the experience.
The book ends after Origami Yoda’s prior advice to learn the dance move “The Twist” ends up helping Tommy and Sara, who like each other, dance together at a PTA Fun Night. This ending is satisfying in that it ties in nicely to the beginning, when Tommy was at an earlier PTA Fun Night too shy to make a move. It also leaves the reader curious about whether or not Origami Yoda is real, setting the stage for several sequels that leave you wanting to read more.
While intended for younger readers (ages 8-14), older readers can still appreciate the humor, complex character development, and Star Wars themed references over the course of the series. The novel even features a hand drawn guide on how to fold the elusive Origami Yoda puppet in it, so give it a try!