• Happy birthday Marcia Sewall (Pilgrims of Plimoth), and Raymond Bial (A Handful of Dirt).
  • In 1872, American women couldn’t legally vote, but suffragist Susan B. Anthony does anyway and is fined $100. Read Susan B. Anthony: Fighter for Freedom and Equality by Suzanne Slade.
  • In 1895, the state of Utah grants women the right to vote. Read You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? by Jean Fritz
  • A woman’s right to vote is affirmed by Arizona, Kansas, and Wisconsin in 1912. Read Elizabeth Leads the Way by Tanya Lee Stone.

To celebrate World Origami Days (October 24–November 11) I would recommend one of my favorite books of the last five years. The ancient Japanese art of Origami does not seem an obvious premise for a trendy, very funny, and contemporary novel, but then great children’s writers always find new slants on old topics.

In The Strange Case of Origami Yoda writer Tom Angleberger, who works on the staff of the Roanoke Times (VA), uses the book design and illustration as well as the text itself to bring to life a great cast of eccentric and misfit sixth-graders. Tommy opens and closes the story with a discussion of how an origami finger puppet, which looks like Yoda of Star Wars, alters the lives of those in his class. Origami Yoda’s owner, Dwight, does strange things all the time—says “purple” as his only answer to questions, for instance—and carries around his paper puppet. As the members of the class begin to ask Origami Yoda questions, they find a screwball logic to his bizarre sayings: “The Twist you must learn,” he tells them one day, referring to the 1960s dance craze. Or “Likes you he does. Kissing you he wants.”

Each chapter is a case file in Tommy’s narrative and is told by a different student who describes his or her experience with Dwight and Origami Yoda. After each file, Tommy and his friend Harvey comment on the contents. In this way the book functions as a great way to teach point of view to fifth- through seventh-graders. But, more importantly, it provides a funny, rich reading experience. As his classmates wonder whether Dwight is smarter or dumber than he seems—is he giving the advice or is the finger puppet really clairvoyant and wise?—they get carried along in a series of events that wrap up in a perfectly satisfying ending.

Complete with lessons on folding an origami Yoda, this book is also a perfect follow-up for readers of the Wimpy Kid series. The author happens to be a pretty savvy Yoda himself, knowing how to be true to child behavior and language while crafting an engaging story filled with wisdom. Origami Yoda does say, “Read a book should you….The Hobbit.” But young readers might want to pick up The Strange Case of Origami Yoda first. As he might say, “Read about me. Happy you will be.” For those who fall in love with these characters, the sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back, will continue to make them happy.

Here’s a passage from The Strange Case of Origami Yoda:

The big question: Is origami Yoda real?

Well, of course he’s real. I mean, he’s a real finger puppet made out of a real piece of paper.

But I mean: Is he REAL? Does he really know things? Can he see the future? Does he use the Force?


Originally posted November 5, 2010. Updated for .

Tags: Origami, School
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The Strange Case of Origami Yoda


  1. Excellent write-up!!



  2. Kathryn Wuerker says:

    Thank you for this! This selection made my day. I’ll give a shout out for the Jedi Path by Daniel Wallace. Star wars continually is teaching us new things :)

  3. Anita says:

    Kate: This book definitely has your name written on it!

  4. Muriel Feldshuh says:

    HAPPY First Birthday to the Children’s Book-A Day Almanac! What a FABULOUS website for those of us who appreciate and love Children’s Literature. I log on each day and learn so much. Thank You Anita!

    In appreciation,
    Muriel Feldshuh
    Publisher & Editor of
    Advisor to The Books for Kids Foundation

  5. CLM says:

    Happy Birthday! For next Guy Fawkes Day can I nominate the House of Arden or Harding’s Luck?

  6. Jory Hearst says:

    This book cracks me up. And as we gear up for the release of Wimpy Kid #6 @ Porter Sq. Books, this is among our favorites on the display of “waiting for the next Wimpy Kid?? Try this!”

  7. Anita says:

    Jory: I laugh every time I read, or rearead, passages from these two books. Glad to hear you are featuring it at Porter Square. So many people have thanked me, after giving this to a child, for recommending it to them.

    Like Wimpy Kid and the Rick Riodan books, the Origami Yoda books are emerging as silver bullet titles — the ones that almost never fail.

  8. Barb says:

    And it’s one of those gender-neutral books that male reluctant readers will try (and then LOVE)!

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