Spotlight on Funny: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Um, yeah, I got sucked in by the first paragraph. Read the whole book. Laughed out loud. Loved it. This wasn’t just a “funny” book. This was a story with heart and humor.

Premise from inside cover: 

Sixth grader Tommy and his friends describe their interactions with a paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, as they try to figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future.

Opening lines introduced the heart of the conflict and what was at stake. I immediately knew I would read the whole book.

Each chapter is a different case file narrated by Tommy’s classmates. And Tommy and his “unbeliever” friend, Harvey, add in their comments at the end of each chapter. Each case file is surprising, original, and moving.

And, of course, Tommy has to figure out if origami yoda is real before he makes a decision concerning a certain girl.

What great writing concepts can I steal from this book?

  • It wasn’t funny for the sake of being funny.
  • Each case was unique, specific, funny – but believable.
  • An original and humorous premise.
  • The author knew the target audience.
  • Perfect mix of great telling and showing.
  • A cast of fully developed characters.
  • Mystery introduced early on.
  • Satisfying ending with heart.

Humor take away: funny premise and suprising the reader on every page.

What stories do you remember that had a funny premise? Or a book that kept surprising you page after page?

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17 Responses to Spotlight on Funny: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

  1. Stina Lindenblatt October 6, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    I would love to write a story with humor and heart. Not sure how to though. Or maybe the right story hasn’t come my way yet.

  2. Laura Pauling October 6, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Hey Stina,
    That begs the question – does the premise or character have to be funny in order to inject a bit of humor?

  3. Kelly Polark October 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    I have to read this with my son!!!!! I’ve been meaning to read it, but forget about it. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Laura October 6, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

      Kelly – It’s a great read aloud book since a lot of the chapters are separate cases and like mini stories!

  4. Tyrean October 6, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    That title is priceless . . . I have to look that one up.

  5. Creepy Query Girl October 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    One of the funniest books I ever read was ‘Diary of a Mad Mom to Be’ by Lauren Wolf. The situations were histarical along with the MC’s voice.

    Origami Yoda sounds really cute and funny! Thanks for shedding light on this book!

  6. Jennifer Hoffine October 6, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Great post! This book sounds great!

    In the MG realm, No Talking and Stargirl both surprised me with their unusual yet simple premises and their humor with heart.

    In YA, I like Deb Caletti for lighter tone novels which still have depth.

    In adult, nothing beats Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)…okay, maybe not for heart, but for humor with meaning and depth hiding in it.

    • Laura October 6, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

      Jennifer – I do remember Stargirl. Very funny premise even though it wasn’t funny for the main character – which I think is why it worked so well!

      Katie – I haven’t heard of that but just the title sounds funny – esp. since I’m a mom!

  7. Susan R. Mills October 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    It sounds like this book accomplished a lot in the humor department. I love a book that surprises me on every page.

  8. Tina Lee October 6, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    I love that you are doing this! i look forward to checking out this book.

  9. Lynda Young October 6, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

    That sounds like a really good read. I like that it’s original. Originality seems harder to find these days.

  10. Carole Anne Carr October 6, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    To answer your question, most of the winners of the Noble prize for literature, I search out those from other countries and read in translation. One favourite that stands out – William Golding’s Pincher Martin.

  11. Sarah Mullen Gilbert October 7, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    LOVE this book and super excited that they’re doing a sequel. My Dad is getting his own folded origami Yoda for Christmas, if I can figure out the instructions 🙂

  12. Paul October 7, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini comes to mind. Very funny book.

    ps. I really like your list of concepts!!

  13. Julie Musil October 8, 2010 at 2:15 am #

    I haven’t heard of this book before, but just the title alone makes me want to read it!

  14. Marcia October 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    I loved this book. My very favorite thing is that it’s all about Dwight’s method for breaking out of the stereotype of himself through showing, not telling. That in itself is amusing.

    • Laura October 8, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

      Very true, Marcia. I never really looked at it that way. Great point.

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