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Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett (Origami Yoda) Hardcover – August 6, 2013
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“Captain” Dwight and Origami Yoda return to McQuarrie Middle School just in time to wage battle against a powerful new enemy in Angleberger’s latest installment of this popular series. After a poor showing on the state standardized tests, McQuarrie students learn that their favorite classes—art, choir, sports, LEGOs—are being replaced by FunTime, a learning enhancement program that proves to be anything but fun. With Origami Yoda at the helm, an Origami Alliance forms to launch a rebellion against FunTime in order to save the school and its students from the Dark Side. Angleberger delivers another clever, funny crowd-pleaser in a diary-style case file packed with doodles and the voices of key participants in the rebellion. The message isn’t bad either: uniting for the greater good and standing up for one’s beliefs. Fans of the series, or of Star Wars, will hit warp speeds to grab a copy of this one. Grades 3-6. --Julia Smith
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"The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet" picks up where the cliffhanger ending of The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee: An Origami Yoda Book left off, and continues to deliver. It's funny, creative, and has a surprising amount of heart behind it.
Dwight, the creator of the paper oracle known as Origami Yoda, has returned to McQuarrie Middle School just in time -- the school has done away with its elective classes, replacing them with an educational program called FunTime in an effort to bring up standardized test scores. The students are understandably upset about losing their art, chorus, and other fun classes, and even more so when they learn the school field trip has been cancelled in order to make room for the excruciatingly boring and embarrassing FunTime program. Tommy, Kellen, Sara, and even Harvey (who's no longer the series' main villain, thank goodness) know that the only one who can help them is Origami Yoda... but Dwight tells them Yoda can't do it alone. He begins to recruit students into a "rebel alliance," hoping to do away with FunTime once and for all. Principal Rabbski seems to be thwarting them at every turn, however, and things begin to look hopeless... but the kids just may have help from a most unlikely ally.
As always, Tom Angleberger seems to perfectly capture what it's like to be a kid with his books. The students' dreams, concerns, and struggles feel real, and each comes with their own unique backgrounds and family situations. Each kid also has their own voice throughout the book, which is quite the feat for any work of fiction. The little doodles in the margins add to the humor and will help this book appeal to fans of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series.
I've noticed as this series has progressed that it's grown into more and more of a soapbox for the author, talking about how the education system is crumbling and failing to help those it's designed to help -- the kids -- and how efforts to fix it are well-meaning but often misguided. I usually complain when an author chooses to derail a good series in favor of preaching, but Angleberger manages to not let the message overtake the story. The "moral," as it were, doesn't overtake the plot, and is actually quite the timely and well-needed one. In fact, one can argue that the key message of this book isn't that our education system is flawed, but that even kids can make a difference and change things for the better. And on a related note, it was nice to see that the "villain" of the series, Principal Rabbski, isn't evil and means well, but is herself in a situation she cannot control.
And of course, the Star Wars references and nods throughout the book are quite appealing to this self-styled geek, and are sure to make this book a treat for Star Wars fans young and old. As always, it comes with instructions for your own Star Wars origami characters in the back.
Another fun and entertaining entry in a favorite series, and I eagerly await the sequel. :)
The Origami Yoda books have been a source of great fun for him (and me as well). The stories are well written and entertaining. Each book tells the tale of a group of middle school students who seek help and advice from the all-wise Origami Yoda. And Yoda always helps to point the kids in the right direction. The books focus on friendship, teamwork, kindness, bravery, and intelligence. It forces the kids to look past stereotypes and judgments, and really see the world and people for what they are.
"What?! All that in a silly kids book?!"
Yes. All of that. They learn that the "weird" kid, is actually really fun. The "bully" is just misunderstood. The "smelly girl" has been having problems at home. The "dumb jock" actually had the highest scores in the standardized tests. And the "disabled" girl was not different from the rest of them at all. But more than that, even the teachers and adults in the book (who are originally portrayed as the "bad guys") are better explained to the kids as the books progress; showing that their actions have always been to help the children to learn and grow up well.
But all of these deep life lessons are intermingled with humor and fun. Little illustrations on each page help to keep the attention of younger readers (age 7-9), but the stories are still challenging enough to be read by middle school aged kids (or enjoyed by adults). And the last pages of each book has instructions to make your own Origami Star Wars characters. So the fun can continue in your own home after the books have been read.
Dwight Tharp, back at McQuarrie Middle School from Tibbet Academy, and his good friend Tommy Lomax play Origami Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi to lead what they’re calling the Origami Rebel Alliance. Principal Rabbski has dropped drama, art, chorus, music, and some sports to make room for Fun Time™ — a stultifying video program to drill the seventh-graders in math, complete with a rapping Professor Fun Time and a cartoon dancing, rapping calculator sure to appall and bore middle-schoolers in equal measure. Fun Time™ (dubbed the Fun Time™ Menace by Origami Yoda) provides an excellent satire on Study Island, Edgenuity and host of similar highly expensive and mind-numbing programs to drill students in the vain hopes of boosting test scores on high-stakes tests. Excruciating programs like this are commonplace across the nation, even though such test results don’t predict how good a school is, much less how well a student will do in college. (High school grades are a much better predictor of college success and graduation than scores on the SAT or ACT, much less high-stakes state tests.)
Can Dwight and his scrappy group of friends take on the Fun Time™ Menace and Emperor Palpatine — er, Principal Rabbski? Read and find out!
Lastly, once again, I was lucky enough to follow the Origami Rebellion Alliance on audiobook, with the same wonderful cast of narrators as the three previous novels.