I read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda about a year and a half ago and liked it enough to buy a copy for my classroom library (fourth grade). A few of the boys read it, but there wasn’t a lot of hubbub about it. Contrast that with this school year. A couple of my boys had previously read and loved the book so much that they donated copies of it, as well as Darth Paper, to our class library. Now everyone wanted to read them and a waiting list became necessary.
I finally got around to reading Darth Paper Strikes Back this weekend and thought I’d post a review of both of the books. I’m not going to bother with summaries; they’re easily available.
There are two features which make these books stand out. First of all, they’re written from multiple points of view. The case study format means that a variety of students are contributing, so we hear a variety of voices. I think this helps to present a more authentic middle school experience to the reader, especially because other students write in comments on each other’s entries. We get to know the characters better by seeing their different writing styles.
Second, there are abundant illustrations throughout. The books are set up like notebooks, complete with crinkled paper background effects. The students in the story doodle on the pages and mark key points of the text. I like this because it’s fun and different. It’s not like Diary of a Wimpy Kid where the story is partly told through illustration in a sort of comic format. The illustrations are supplementary, but they make the text and the story more real.
I enjoyed Origami Yoda more than Darth Paper. The story is more interesting and compelling, and because it’s the first book, the style is more surprising and fresh. But Darth Paper is worth a read as well. I wouldn’t rank these as books of high literary quality. However, I think the stories are engaging and unique enough to capture the reluctant reader, especially ten year old boys who think reading is just not worth the effort. These books will change their minds. Plus they’re just fun to read.
Bonus: Each book includes instructions on how to make Origami Yoda or Darth Paper.