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The Suprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet

Posted by Vanessa On Wednesday, October 09, 2013

I'm the mother of two boys: 10 and 9 years old. One is an avid reader and one isn't, but I read as part of their bedtime ritual and search far and wide to find books all of us will enjoy.

Enter Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda series. The man is a genius: middle grade kids, a mystery, Star Wars, and origami? There's something in there for everyone. Oh, and they're hysterical.

In book four of the Origami Yoda series, THE SURPRISE ATTACK OF JABBA THE PUPPET, Tommy, Mike, Dwight and the gang are back, and this time even Harvey is on their side: they are in open rebellion against Principal Rabbski's new FunTime™ learning program designed to boost the school's test scores. With electives cancelled in favor of dumbed-down videos, the kids think the only thing FunTime boosts is their boredom. They seek out Origami Yoda's insight to solve the problem. His answer? This is more than even Origami Yoda can handle and announces that the only way to get school back to normal is if everyone pitches in.

Principal Rabbski is as cunning as Boba Fett, sly as Han Solo, and ruthless as Darth Vader, and is determined to make the kids of McQuarrie Middle School behave...or else. Origami Yoda has been right before, but will he be right about takes-no-prisoners Principal Rabbski?

Since it's book four we've spent the last three books getting to know Tommy, Mike, Dwight and the others pretty well. Angleberger does a good job differentiating them, and they feel like real kids dealing with real-life problems in creative ways. My boys' particular favorite is the eccentric Dwight, who at first seems to be the mastermind behind all the chaos, but the rational serenity of his finger puppet Yoda makes you wonder...

In previous books the mystery surrounded the validity of Origami Yoda's powers of prognostication. But since that's been firmly established, now the kids have an even bigger problem to solve, and simply being kids limits them, their schooling being decided by adults. I wonder a little about Angleberer's topic (government mandated testing and the resultant curriculum), and being a parent myself of middle school kids understand the frustration of the kids and how teachers' hands are tied. He skirts sounding agenda-driven just barely by the way he uses FunTime and the over-the-top way the kids react to its obviously ridiculous design. But I love the way the kids work together in a way to solve their problems and how using the origami puppets make the kids think in new ways.

The actual design of the book is great, with each chapter a different viewpoint--this really helps us get to know the kids and the way they think. The doodles in the margins are hilarious (my boys love pointing them out), and Tommy and Harvey's comments at the end of each chapter help with continuity. And you can't help but appreciate Harvey's snark. The best thing, though? The instructions for origami Star Wars puppets at the end of each book. Currently I have an army of origami Ewoks all over my house.

The only bad thing is that this book is to be continued! The previous books were self-contained stories so I was a little disappointed to get to the end only to have to wait for the next installment and I hope the solution. For now I will have to be satisfied with Jabba's surprise attack at the end. Yes, I squealed.

Recommended Age: 8+ and yes even their parents will enjoy this fabulous series
Language: None
Violence: None
Sex: None

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