The Origami Yoda Files

My favorite book series is by Tom Angleberger. It is called The Origami Yoda Files. The books in the series are Origami Yoda, Art2 D2, Darth Paper, Fortune Wookie and Jabba the Puppet. There is a new book coming out on March 4th called Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue!

The first book I read was Origami Yoda, and I loved it. The book is very funny. It is about a paper Yoda puppet that gets thrown away and magically comes back. The best part of the book was the part where Origami Yoda did a Jedi mind trick and kept everyone from spelling ‘mulct’. The worst part was when Dwight threw away Origami Yoda because he was being teased. I recommend this book to people who like Star Wars. 

Darth Paper is about a boy who was teasing Dwight from Origami Yoda. He made a Darth Paper. The puppets have a light saber battle and Darth Paper was defeated. I liked this book too.  

Fortune Wookie is also good. Dwight got transferred to another school and a girl who lives next door made a rumor that Dwight threw Fortune Wookie into her window even though he did not. Everyone was sad because they thought Dwight had made the Wookie to help them with things they needed help with, like to stop being teased. The bad part was that Fortune Wookie got ripped in half, but the good part was he got taped back together. They did stop getting teased because the Fortune Wookie helped them after they taped him back together. 

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet is about the school kids making a rebel alliance to get rid of a singing calculator on the smart board that is really annoying. Then they got called to the office and when they got back to class the calculator was back. They brought their origami alliance back with them but they got in trouble and their parents got called. When the parents came, the calculator came on accidentally, and the parents didn’t like the calculator. They said, “We don’t want our kids seeing this calculator. It will not help them learn anything!” The parents got rid of the calculator and everything was good again. 

Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling is about how to draw the characters from the books. You can draw them and fold puppets of them. I have made Origami Yoda, Fortune Wookie, and Ewoks. It also shows you how to make 3D letters and numbers, and I have done that too. This is a fun book, but it is not as long as the others and there is no story to it. 

I am looking forward to reading Princess Labelmaker when it comes out. There is a party at the library for fans of the series, but it is for 3rd through 5th graders and I am too young. 

By Ava Bohnenstiehl

Experiencing Tuesdays with Morrie*

*I write a lot about experiencing the novel through crafts, snacks, field trips, dramatization, etc. This blog will discuss experiencing Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie through its dramatization which my husband and I attended June 12, 2011.  This blog, though, is written in celebration of the life of Michelle Conrady-Brown, born June 27, 1977.  Having only met Michelle a handful of times through her sister, my friend Ash, I felt as if I had known her for years due to her warmth and smile.  A loving mother to Avery and Nora, devoted wife, and tireless social worker, she is remembered forever in our hearts.
Michelle Conrady-Brown
     Having purchased my tickets for the play, Tuesdays with Morrie, I wanted to read the non-fiction work written by Mitch Albom prior to performance night.  Having downloaded this book on my phone, I intentionally learned how to use the digital highlighter thingy ma bob because of the thought-provoking aphorisms (these quotes will definitely find their way onto my chalkboard) at nearly every turn of the page.  The vivid descriptions of Morrie’s debilitating disease brought to mind memories of my own father’s gruesome death at the hands of cancer, and, thus, streams of tears from my eyes.  Yet, I do not walk away from the reading of Tuesdays with Morrie with mere sadness at the loss of Morrie, a contributing member of society, but sadness overshadowed by the motivation to do more with one’s life with the end goal of not benefiting oneself, but benefiting others.
    Thus “date night” arrived, and the hub begrudgingly agreed to accompany me to see the enactment of Tuesdays with Morrie (although X-Men: First Class would have been his choice).  This play, directed by Tom Corbett, had a one-night production at Troy United Methodist Church.  The two-man cast from the Ricks-Weil Theatre Company comprised Gary Roberts as Mitch Albom and Thom Johnson as Morrie Schwartz.  There was no changing of scenery, no intermission, and only slight costume changes.  Yet, the passing of twenty years and the suggestion of an accompanying cast through the use, for example, of an empty chair was achieved.  This play was able to portray the love between these two human beings as well as the rapid progression of ALS in a meager 90 minutes.  What impressed upon me the most was the creative usage of lighting.  At one point, Mitch’s wife, Janine (i.e. the character in the empty chair), visits Morrie.  A singer, she agrees to sing for Morrie at his request.  Morrie, in turn, closes his eyes in order to be in the moment and savor this gift of her voice (which is a recording played in the background).  After Morrie closes his eyes, the stage as well as the church’s Family Living Center, where the stage is placed, goes dark- unable to see my hand in front of my face dark.  Thus, the audience’s eyes are shut, too, in order to accompany Morrie in the present.  The play ended with roaring applause, and then there was an unusual quietness where, I guessed, people were lost in thought instigated by the play in much the same manner as the hub and I were.  The majority of the ride home was comfortable silence interrupted only with our agreeing that we both thoroughly enjoyed Tuesdays with Morrie.  I will now close with one of Morrie’s aphorisms for the road, this journey we call life, “Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

Doctor De Soto by William Steig

     As part of the homework assignment for Reading Camp, we were to choose a picture book from the reading list provided and then partake in a dramatization of the story.  As luck would have it, William Steig’s Doctor De Soto, a Newberry Honor Book happened to be on our bookshelf.  No hasty trips to the library for this assignment.  Score!
     Main characters Dr. De Soto and his wife, Mrs. De Soto, work tirelessly on various patients’ teeth such as moles, chipmunks, and pigs.  Due to De Soto being a mouse, he took extra precautions against any potential patients that may cause harm to himself or his wife.  Outside the office, a wailing fox begged for treatment, and De Soto and his wife, from the kindness of their hearts, relented and decided to treat him.  A fox is a fox is a fox, so inevitably, his ulterior motives surfaced.  Yet, in the end, De Soto and his wife were able to successfully outfox the fox.
     A perfect choice to read before a dental visit or perhaps a field trip to a dentist’s office.  In our case, the squirts and I each chose a character from the story to reenact.  Being the largest of the bunch, I was the sly fox and used my spooky voice in the retelling.  My girls furiously worked on my teeth with their invisible instruments and finally sent me on my way with an intentional dose of artificially created lockjaw.
      For snack, an ideal time to reaffirm the healthy snack option- Green Meanies, mouths made from healthy food options – in lieu of sugary snacks as an attempt to keep dental work at bay.  If there is time, I have found that I cannot go wrong with sticker scenes with my squirts and their friends.  Oriental Trading offers Make-a-Dental Sticker Sheets which reaffirms the theme of the story.

Reading Level:  Ages 4-8
William Steig

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

     Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain reaches beyond the animal lover or racing lover.  Instead, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a consuming read for men and women alike.  Creatively, narration is provided by Enzo, the terrier/lab mutt chosen at twelve weeks by the protagonist, Denny.  Enzo welcomes the reader into the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of his own life as well as the life of his master.  Without giving too much away,  the majority of Stein’s novel is a realistic tearjerker causing one to evaluate the treatment of his own life as well as others which then concludes on an almost fairy-tale note.
     Problems for me, the reader, ensued with the late introduction of Denny’s parents.  Their physical presence in the novel occupying only one chapter read as an afterthought.  Further explanation surrounding the parents only reaffirmed the notion that either more elaboration was needed, or the interjection of the parents should have been deemed unnecessary and distracting during editing.
     In regards to book club, this is one where man’s best friend should be not only welcome, but master or mistress of ceremonies.  The ideal setting would be a dog park such as Rock Springs Park in O’Fallon, IL.  If book club members are not owners of the four-legged friend, simply being near these canines at the park would set the mood.  Plenty of dog biscuits must be brought along to share with the dogs, and a fresh batch of oatmeal raisin cookies made in the same manner as Denny- plopped onto the cookie sheet- to share with the humans completes the ambiance and hopefully gives chase to a conversational treat.  Garth Stein
   

Molly’s Magic Pencil Book Club Ideas

     It comes as no surprise that the vivid images composed of rich colors by illustrator, cartoonist, designer, and author Peter Davies engage the emergent reader.  In fact, my three-year-old snatched the book from my hands and proceeded to tell the story in her own words using only the bold pictures as guidance.  With a sprinkle of Harry and the Purple Crayon mixed with a dash of Aladdin’s magic carpet, Davies’ words add a memorable tale with a positive message to Molly’s Magic Pencil.
     The English teacher within could not help but notice the run-on sentence on page one as well as some missing commas throughout.  Distracting for a thirty-something, but ignored by the target audience, three-year somethings.  In addition due to editing, a picture of Grandpa looks as if he is missing part of his left arm, but I assured my toddler that Grandpa was completely intact.
     For book club regardless of weather, definitely incorporate a flying carpet into the storytelling area.  This may be a sheet, rug, or blanket.  Allow the kiddos to take a ride with their minds as they listen to Molly’s Magic Pencil.  Snack may be the creation of a flying carpet using graham crackers, peanut butter or icing, and various colored sprinkles in order to create the carpet of his/her choice.   To conclude “baby” book club, give each book club member a “magic pencil” and paper allowing the creative juices to flow and to review Molly’s Magic Pencil.

Peter Davies

Dead Reckoning Book Review and Book Club Ideas

     Having just completed book 11 in Charlaine Harris’ series, I am filled with a sense of sadness that I have turned the last page and a pang of disappointment that this novel feels more transitional than stand-alone. The main protagonist, Miss Stackhouse, finds herself involved in yet another dilemma- this time concerning the status of her relationship with her beloved, Eric, as well as his future in the vampire kingdom.  Glimpses of well-developed characters in past novels seem only to make cameo appearances leaving the reader with several unanswered questions.  Usually the Dead novels are a one-night read, this time the pull of the novel did not seem to occur until nearly 80% of the pages had been read.  Nevertheless, I will impatiently wait for book 12 in which I am hopeful I will find the answers to which I am looking.
     If choosing this novel for book club, it is worth the attempt to experience the novel as much as possible as a means to not only spark conversation, but also to immerse the reader into the pages.  Thus, without a doubt, to set the ambiance, play Elvis’ “Kentucky Rain,” “In the Ghetto,” and “JailhouseRock.”  Refreshments could include Miss Stackhouse’s cheese straws- crisp with the right amount of spice- salted pecans, Maxine’s punch, a delicious cake from the bakery, and, of course, plenty of V8 disguised in bottles with the True Blood label.

Charlaine Harris

Carol Galusha’s Writing His Biography Book Review

In one evening I completed Writing His Autobiography, and my belief system in the necessity of romance was reaffirmed. A mesmerizing read . . . “chick lit” and then some. Not only does Ms. Galusha accurately depict the excitement and rose-colored vision of a blossoming romance, but also the harsh realities of what it means to deal with a life-threatening illness. . . the ups and downs of life. The highs of new love are sprinkled with the lows of greed, selfishness, and pride. Truly a must read for not simply the female reader, but lessons to be learned for the male reader as well. Carol Galusha

Rhonda Tibbs’ Song of the Snowman Book Review

Rhonda Tibbs’ Song of the Snowman accurately portrays literary realism. As Mrs. Tibbs’ characters unfold and evolve, the reader is able to find himself/herself within the novel. Although one may not directly fall victim to parental neglect, alcohol abuse, and/or spousal betrayal, Tibbs captures emotions with which anyone can relate. Fortunately, Tibbs wrote a prequel, Angel’s Blues which is a must read for those like me who genuinely mourned the fact that I had finished reading Song of the Snowman. A terrific choice for a book club discussion. Rhonda Tibbs