The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee
Written and Illustrated by Tom Angleberger
First there was The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda, then there was Darth Paper Strikes Back. Now there is The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee. A colorful and quirky cast at McQuarrie Middle School uses Star Wars culture to help them navigate the complicated world of middle school. Dwight introduced Origami Yoda in the first book, a finger puppet made from folded paper that could give advice for life’s most challenging situations while the gang solved a mystery. But Dwight is suspended from McQuarrie in this book and becomes a mystery himself. He stops talking to his friends after he goes to his alternative school and begins to act very un-Dwight-like, in other words, normal. Before he goes, he supposedly leaves a paper fortune teller shaped like Chewbacca with Sara. Thanks to a Han Solo puppet that can translate Wookiee-speak, she is able to give advice that rival Yoda’s. In spite of the day-to-day drama/advice success, they still miss their friend Dwight and set about convincing him that his real place is with his friends at McQuarrie.
The book’s design may be tricky for less skilled readers so it is more appropriate as a read aloud. It is illustrated with drawings meant as commentary on the action and they are quite small. This would be a good one-on-one read aloud between grade levels. An older elementary reader would be ideal because he or she could guide the younger listener through the Star Wars references, if necessary, and explain the humor, which can be a bit puzzling to a third grader. The characters are distinct and they have a strong friendship. Some cause and effect reading activities could be developed from taking or ignoring the Fortune Wookiee’s advice. A major theme of the book is that everyone can be appreciated for being themselves which could start some good “character counts” discussion.
Inspired to make your own folded Star Wars characters? There are detailed instructions on author Tom Angleberger’s website: (http://origamiyoda.wordpress.com/) and a YouTube video from the publisher, Amulet: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA4VJbqFQuw). Great fun it is!