I confessed in my review of the second book in the Origami Yoda series that I’m not a Star Wars fan, and that hasn’t changed. I don’t guess I dislike the movies, but I certainly am not conversant in the plots and characters. I think this was a little more of a deterrant in my reading the third book in the series, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, than it was the last time, but overall I was able to work through my unfamiliarity with the Star Wars characters and get to the meat of the story, which is all about the ins and outs of seventh grade society. The Origami Yoda books are written as case files from multiple perspectives, but one thing Tom Angleberger does fairly well is make the voices of the various kids who write the chapters (files) distiguishable from one another. This real story here is that Dwight, the creator of the original Origami Yoda, was suspended at McQuarrie Middle School and so ended up at a private school. Thus, the McQuarrie kids are without the Yoda and his wisdom–that is, until Dwight tosses a an origami Fortune Wookiee out the window to his neighbor, Sara. The Fortune Wookiee (via Han Foldo, who interprets the Wookiee’s growls) dispenses advice in a similar fashion to the original Yoda, and all is well. However, things are not exactly as they seem, neither at McQuarrie nor at Tippett Academy, Dwight’s new school, and it’s up to Tommy and the other McQuarrie kids to figure out how to make things better.
These Origami Yoda books are pretty typical school stories with the added dimension of the Star Wars talk plus an interesting, diary-like format with lots of entertaining doodles and illustrations. There’s lots of boy-girl interaction (boyfriends, girlfriends, almost-boyfriends and girlfriends, etc.), which I don’t doubt is typical for seventh graders. I think Tom Angleberger does a good job of making his characters realistic and showing that even the most annoying seventh grade boy has more than one side. He definitely sets this one up for another sequel, with the prinicipal of the school announcing that all electives will be cancelled after Christmas in favor of the students focusing on the “FUN-damentals” for the upcoming Standards of Learning test. This, of course, will give the McQuarrie kids something to fight for, and an origami something will no doubt be involved. These aren’t the typical sort of middle grade fiction stories I enjoy, but I think they have lots and lots of kid appeal. (Amulet Books, 2012)