by Tom Angleberger
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Personal Evaluation: I loved all these kids. They were all so real to me, and reminded me of myself and other kids I knew when I was in middle school and brought me right back to middle school dances (in an endearing way). I found the wacky premise oddly intriguing and wanted to see what kind of advice wise Origami Yoda would give. Because I had it as a playaway and didn’t see the layout, I probably missed out on some drawings, but the structure of it as a case file was clear. There were different readers or voices for the different narrators, which was also helpful.
What might interest children: This book was really popular in my area for a while. I think the fact that Yoda is in the title, and it’s a weird title, is intriguing. The idea of the loser kid being the hero, almost against his own will (since he doesn’t even take Origami Yoda’s advice) is interesting to kids, as well as all the other social dynamics – the terror of asking someone to dance, etc. I don’t think it would be as popular for kids in playaway form as in book form, though.
by Matt Christopher
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars
Personal Evaluation: This book struck me as incredibly dated and the kids were almost too innocent to be believable. I think this would appeal to a much younger audience now than when it first came out, which I was surprised to discover was not even 20 years ago. For example, the main character says of his former best friend, “a no-good, miserable, dirty–” and his mother admonishes him, saying “You don’t use that kind of language.” His little sister calls someone stupid and the mother says, “behave yourself” (p.94-95). When their neighbor’s house catches fire, the father pulls an alarm on a pole across the street to call for the fire truck. I was 12 in 1994, when this book came out, and I remember nothing like that. But besides those details, the story is a solid one of hurt feelings, friendship in need of repair and teamwork – and of course lots of soccer.
What might interest children: This is definitely a book for sports fans, and probably not for non-sports-fans. Kids who have had friendships tested out on the field will follow the play-by-play easily and with interest. I would probably stick to Christopher’s more recent books, though – hopefully they are more culturally current. I hope to read one for another category later in the semester.