Category Archives: Don’t Like to Read?

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda – Review

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Title: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Author: Tom Angleberger

This book is set up as a “case file” assembled by Tommy and including comments and drawings from his friends. Tommy is trying to get to the bottom of a strange problem: Is Origami Yoda real? “Does he really know things? Can he see the future? Does he use the Force? Or is he just a hoax that fooled a whole bunch of us?”

Origami Yoda was created by Dwight, and from his perch on Dwight’s finger, he speaks through Dwight in a surprisingly wise way. The reason this is so strange is that Dwight is so strange. Dwight is the weird kid who pulls his socks up over his knees when he wears shorts. The one who spewed apple juice all over the class cupcakes. The one who wanted everyone to call him Captain Dwight. So, he’s weird. Benign, but weird.

Origami Yoda, on the other hand, is a virtual fountain of wisdom and sage advice. You leaned against the wet bathroom sink and it looks like you peed your pants? Splash your whole body – it’s a water accident, not a potty accident. Problem solved! The thing is, if Dwight is such a weirdo, how does Yoda give such good advice? And if Yoda gives such good advice, why doesn’t Dwight listen to it? This is the conundrum Tommy is trying to solve, and it makes for a very entertaining book.

I started reading this on my lunch break and finished it at dinner. It’s a super-fast read (maybe 150 pages long), but there’s substance, too. The design of the book is fun. The pages are faux-crinkled, the fonts change depending on who’s telling the story, and there are lots of little doodle drawings and commentaries in the margins. The story continues in Darth Paper Strikes Back and The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.

The Night She Disappeared – Review

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Title: The Night She Disappeared

Author: April Henry

Gabie is a good girl. She’s quiet, gets excellent grades, drives a cute little Mini Cooper, and works at a pizza place mostly to get out of her big, empty house. When bright, bubbly Kayla asks to switch shifts one night, Gabie agrees. Then Kayla disappears, and Gabie finds out that the guy who called in the pizza delivery asked for the girl in the Mini Cooper. Was Gabie actually the intended victim? Is Kayla already dead?

Gabie becomes obsessed with Kayla’s disappearance and enlists the help of Drew, the co-worker who took the phone order that sent Kayla out that night. Gabie’s convinced that Kayla is still alive, but that time is running out.

Different characters take turns narrating the story, so we get to know what’s going on with Gabie, Drew, Kayla, and even the kidnapper. The chapters are also connected by newspaper clippings, phone transcripts, and other ephemera, which is a neat touch. The one thing that threw me off a bit was the little hints of psychic connection between Gabie and Kayla.  It’s a bit too woo-woo for a straight mystery, but not enough to qualify as a seriously paranormal story. That’s a minor quibble, though, and by and large I really enjoyed this short, intense book.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Beat the Band – Review

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Title: Beat the Band

Author: Don Calame

Summer’s over and Matt, Sean, and Coop are ready to rock their sophmore year of high school. The problem? Coop’s been paired with epic loser “Hot Dog” Helen for a semester-long project on safe sex. How will he survive this social death sentence? By entering and winning the school’s battle of the bands contest. The thing is, the boys’ band, Arnold Murphy’s Bologna Dare (kind of an inside joke), is more theoretical than actual. Sure they rock Guitar Hero, but real instruments? Not so much. Coop is unstoppable, though, and whether they like it or not, Matt and Sean are along for the ride.

Beat the Band is every bit as funny as Swim the Fly. This time Coop tells the story, and he’s terrific as he wise-cracks his way through the book. There are tons of laugh-out-loud moments, although the scene in the library with the epic gas attack nearly killed me. As soon as you finish this, you’ll want to run – not walk – to get Sean’s story in Call the Shots.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Swim the Fly – Review

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Title: Swim the Fly

Author: Don Calame

Every summer, best friends Matt, Sean, and Coop set themselves a goal. When they were younger their goals were simple, like collect 1,000 golf balls before the end of the season. This year, the goal is fairly epic:  to see a naked girl – not in a magazine or online – a living, breathing naked girl.  The problem? None of them has a girlfriend. In fact, none of them has ever even been on a date, so how they’re going to see a naked girl is anyone’s guess.

As crazy as this goal is, however, it begins to look almost feasible when compared to the situation Matt has gotten himself into. You see, in order to impress the hot new girl on their swim team, Matt has volunteered to swim the fly – the 100-meter butterfly, that is. The thing is, Matt can’t even swim one length of the pool, let along the four lengths that make up the 100-meter race – and how he’s gonna make it through the summer is also anyone’s guess…

This book had me laughing from start to finish. At one point I was literally crying from laughing so hard. (The scene involves laxatives, cross-dressing, and the girls’ locker room. How could you not cry?)  Matt is an awesome narrator, and his friends and family are equally appealing. Everything about this book is fab, especially the fact that Coop and Sean have their own stories to tell in Beat the Band and Call the Shots.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn – Review

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Title: 12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn

Author: James Proimos

Hercules Martino’s dad just died, but he’s not too broken up about it because his dad was a major jerk. Still, Herc’s been acting like a major jerk himself, so his mom ships him down to Baltimore to spend a couple weeks with his uncle and pull himself together.  On the train, Herc sits next to the Girl of His Dreams but doesn’t do anything about it. Soon after he arrives, Uncle Anthony gives Herc 12 things to do before summer’s over. Things like

  • Find the best pizza joint in town
  • Go on 7 job interviews in one day
  • Eat a meal with a stranger

Herc alternates between searching for Girl of His Dreams and completing Uncle Anthony’s 12-part project, and of course, the two eventually collide.

This is probably the shortest YA book I’ve ever read (120 pages). I wish it was twice as long because I wanted more of Hercules, more of his snarky commentary, and more about his epic adventures.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Unraveling Isobel – Review

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Title: Unraveling Isobel

Author: Eileen Cook

Isobel is a likeable, smart-alecky girl whose life has just been turned upside-down. Not only has her mom married some creepy rich guy she met online a few months ago, but now they have to leave everything behind in Seattle and move to his crumbling old family mansion on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.  And then, right after they arrive, Isobel thinks she might be seeing ghosts. Are they real? Is someone playing tricks on her? Or is she losing her mind, just like her father did years ago?

This is a quick, undemanding read with some clever plot twists and a narrator you can really sympathize with – and the romance that develops is an added bonus.

-Lisa, Teen Librarian

Girl, Stolen – Review

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Title: Girl, Stolen

Author: April Henry

Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne is asleep in the back of the car when her mom runs into the pharmacy.  Griffin steals the car, sure that his greedy, lowlife dad will be pleased for once when Griffin turns up with an Escalade. He didn’t know anyone was in the car, but he panics, and then theft turns into kidnapping when Griffin’s dad realizes that Cheyenne’s family is very wealthy. Cheyenne is pretty sure she’s not going to live through this awful situation. But what is she going to do? How is she going to survive? She’s got pneumonia, and, oh yeah, she’s blind!

This is a quick, suspenseful read. The story alternates between Cheyenne and Griffin, so you get both of their points of view. It’s a great choice for reluctant readers and mystery fans. 

–Lisa, Teen Librarian