If you have young Star Wars fans in your house, and they haven’t read Tom Angelberger’s pair of origami-novel love letters to the franchise, I highly recommend you pick them both up now. And if you don’t have young Star Wars fans, but you are yourself perhaps a less-young Star Wars fan, you’ll enjoy them yourself. I’m talking about The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and its sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back.
Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book came out last August, and I’ve been quite remiss in not writing about it before now–but not for lack of love of them both. In fact, everybody I’ve seen since then who has heard me talk glowingly about Dwight, Tommy, and their mystery-solving friends will tell you how much I adore these books.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is the paper creation of a sixth-grader named Dwight. He’s a little weird. No, he’s a lot weird. You remember that kid from your own sixth-grade class, I’m sure. Dwight himself is not that brilliant, but his Origami Yoda seems not only smart, but sometimes downright prescient. Dwight’s friend Tommy is dying to know how that can be. Is Origami Yoda “real,” so to speak? Sentient apart from Dwight? Or perhaps he just uses the Force?
The hunt for the answer is the story of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, each chapter told from the point of view of another person from Tommy and Dwight’s group of friends.
In Darth Paper Strikes Back, without ruining for you the conclusions reached in the first novel, Origami Yoda is in danger. And he’s facing a dark paper-foe: Darth Paper, created by Dwight’s nemesis, Harvey. Those who believe in the good of Origami Yoda and Dwight need to save them both from the dark side of paper.
Darth Paper is also written from multiple points of view, in the form of “case files” compiled by and shared among the friends. They’re illustrated just like your notebooks would have been in sixth grade, with doodles of teachers and sarlaacs in the margins.
As a bonus, each ends with the instructions for creating your own origami Star Wars characters, and you can see galleries of those that others have created at origamiyoda.com. You can also follow Origami Yoda on Twitter at @origamiyoda.
Best age for these books? They’re targeted at grades 3-6, ages 8 and up. My six-year-old thought they were fantastic, although I had to explain a few things, like what a school board is and what getting expelled means. Comments on Amazon suggest that their popularity skews towards the younger end of the intended audience. That said, I’m well beyond my elementary school years, and I gleefully devoured them both in one evening and thoroughly enjoyed them.
Be sure to grab them both so you’ll be ready when book three, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee (Origami Yoda), comes out in August.
Disclosure: I received a copy of these books for review, which arrived along with the adorable Darth Paper pictured above.