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Season 1, Episode 10

Quirky Characters: Finger Puppets and Crazy Eyes

March 18, 2021

On this episode of the Planet Book Podcast we dive into the world of Origami Yoda as well as exploring an Argentine folktale about werewolves in a new Own Voices series with guests Heather and Joe.  Book recommendations for young adult and middle...

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Emily 0:03 Hello and welcome to the Planet Book Podcast. I'm your host Emily, a Youth Services Assistant with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. Thank you for joining in each episode as we welcome two guests to talk about their favorite middle grade and young adult books.


Emily 0:03 Today, I'm joined by returning guest Heather, a Reference Librarian with the Springfield-Greene County Library District, who will be talking about our middle grade recommendation. Welcome back, Heather.

Heather 0:25 Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Emily 0:28 Our second guest is Joe, another Youth Services Assistant in the Library District. This is Joe's first time being a guest on the podcast but he has lots of Planet Book Podcast experience because he also does all the post production work on our episodes. Joe, I'm so excited to finally have you as a guest.

Joe 0:43 I'm excited to be here, Emily, thanks for having me.

Middle Grade Recommendation

Emily 0:47 We are going to jump right in with our book talks. Heather you told me that the book you are recommending today is one of your favorite middle grade books. What are you sharing with us?

Heather 0:55 I'm talking about The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. And this book, um, it's kind of a little bit of an older one, it came out in 2010. It's the first in the series. So this is the first one. And then there are a total of six in the Origami Yoda series that continue after that. And so this is the book, it's about a group of sixth graders. So one of the kids Dwight, he's kind of an oddball, a little bit goofy kind of a loner. He's not really picked on but he isn't included very much with other kids. But then he makes this puppet, an origami puppet that is Yoda from Star Wars. And he wears it on his finger and starts giving other kids advice. And basically like as Yoda, like Yoda would. And he, his Origami Yoda gives really, really good advice. And it kind of saves some kids from embarrassment and it gets them out of trouble. And my favorite one is this one where a kid is in the bathroom and the sink like sprays him. And it looks like he had an accident. And wet his pants, you know, being in sixth grade this is, this is not good. So he's freaking out.

Emily 2:07 Mortifying!

Heather 2:08

Mortifying, yes. So he's like freaking out, "what do I do?" And Dwight comes in and he has Origami Yoda and Origami Yoda says "all the pants you must wet." And he's like, "what?" " All of pants you must wet!"

Emily 2:19 Oh!

Heather 2:20 So it's like, oh my gosh, that's a solution. So he splashes water all over himself. And then he goes back to class and tells the teacher that the sink, just like sprayed him and went crazy. And they need to fix it. And so the teacher had, you know, it was like, Okay, well have your mom bring you new clothes and no one thinks he wet his pants. So he's like, Oh, my gosh, this is genius. And so things like that, Origami Yoda gives some very wise, wise advice like that. And the kids start to wonder if, if this is Dwight, or, you know, the like, is quite wise enough to do this. Maybe Origami Yoda is actually tapped into the force. And maybe he is getting his wisdom from that. And one of the other kids, his name's Tommy and he wants to get some advice about a girl. So you know, the stakes are very high. And he needs to know of course, yeah, he needs to know Origami Yoda is legit. So he makes a case file where all the different kids all share their experiences with Origami Yoda. And that's what the book is. It's his case file. And so different kids voices different. They're all just telling their story about how Origami Yoda has helped them. And one of Tommy's friends adds little cartoons, little illustrations. And that's basically the format of books. So he's got all of his case files, and then Tommy has to decide if Origami Yoda is really tapped into the force. And if he should take his advice about this girl he has a crush on. I've-, it's really, really funny. Like, you can sense, that you can probably tell from the description, just kind of the goofiness and kind of just the crazy things that happen in middle school. But it also is really heartwarming. It's very subtle, but it kind of has a good message about accepting others and celebrating our differences and, and including other people. And that, you know, perks can be, the really make- that's what makes life and friendship fun and interesting. It's good that we're not all the same. And the kids kind of start learning learning that about Dwight, but it is subtle. In fact, I don't even think I really thought about that the first time I read it. Um, but then I was I was talking to someone about it. And then I was describing it, I was like, Oh my gosh, this that's why it felt so heartwarming is because like you kind of see him develop these friendships with kids who realize there's more...more to this kid that they sort of had written off and didn't take very seriously. And I was like, Oh, that's why I like it just warms my heart as well as made me laugh. So it's just one of those that that stuck with me. I read it soon after it came out and then I read it again with my younger cousin. And I thought about it recently because I found a copy of it at the library book sale a few weeks ago. So it just sort of reminded me of the book that I loved and kind of reading it again. So.

Emily 5:11 So have you read the other books that you said there are six books total in the series? Have you read just the first one? Or have you read all of them?

Heather 5:17 I have read all of them and I think I own, now, and I don't own all of them. But I the ones I want to read to my kids someday and yeah, I have read all of them. I do think Origami Yoda is probably my favorite, just from you know, it introduces the series, and introduces all the kids and, and it's just so funny, but I did enjoy it. I enjoyed all of them. They've got like, names like Darth Paper Strikes Back and The Return of Jabba the Puppet (The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet), they all kind of fun pun name, and they'll have instructions for building the origami characters in them.

Emily 5:52 Oh, cool!

Heather 5:52 And he also has a book that's just really in depth origami, like Star Wars origami.

Emily 5:58 Okay.

Heather 5:59 So instead, but you can make all kinds of characters, I think it's called Art2-D2. So that's a fun, a fun thing as well. I have not made any of the origami, I would like to try at some point.

Emily 6:14 So you said that this book does include some illustrations. Would it...would you say it kind of has a graphic novel type feel? Or? Or is there enough illustrations in it for that?

Heather 6:23 Yeah! Absolutely. Yeah, it is. It's a good blend of like a chapter book and a graphic novel kind of along the lines of like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate, and things like that. Maybe a little more text than those. But ,but yeah, a fair amount of text, every page, pretty much every page has a cartoon of some kind. And then, and then sometimes they have a certain incident that will be told just in a cartoon.

Emily 6:49 So what age group would you recommend this for?

Heather 6:52 I mean, definitely, I'd say it is a solid, solid middle grade, like, you know, like this, the kids in the story are sixth grade. And I think that's probably about perfect, but also a little bit of upper elementary, too. It's very clean, there's nothing, nothing, nothing too crazy in it. And but also, I think adults, I mean, anyone who likes Star Wars will probably enjoy it just for like a fun read. And so really, I think Star Wars fans of all ages, but I don't think even if you are not a Star Wars fan, middle graders, it's like six, seventh grade, maybe like even fourth and fifth will enjoy it just for sort of the really relatable middle school content.

Emily 7:35 So you said that you think Star Wars fans and even people who aren't Star Wars fans. What about like reluctant readers? I know, a lot of times when something is has a good mix of illustration and do you think that reluctant readers would be good with this one? Or the shifting points of view, would that maybe be a little too much?

Heather 7:54 Um, I think it would be great for reluctant readers and when it, when I first read it, I did, there were a couple of patrons who were I would call reluctant readers who I you recommended to do and they loved it. And I think even the parts where there is a lot of text and a lot of dialogue. It's very quick and funny. So I think it's a great pick for reluctant readers and the ones that I have recommended who I've recommended it to enjoyed it a lot.

Middle Grade Read-alikes

Emily 8:26 Do you have any books that you would recommend to go along with this? Like read-alikes If you liked this book, you'll also like these ones?

Heather 8:33 Um, I think definitely those Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate. Um, I think those are good. It's kind of the same format and also kind of the same type of humor, I think.

Emily 8:48 All right. Well, Heather, thank you so much for sharing that with us. I am definitely going to add it to my to read list. You sold me on it. I am...I was a little unsure of it. But you really, you really sold it. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Heather 9:03 You're very welcome. Thanks for having me. And let me know what you think!

Young Adult Book Recommendation

Emily 9:06 I will! I will definitely keep you updated. Alright, now that we have heard our middle grade recommendation, we're going to move on to Joe for our YA book. Joe, what have you got for us today?

Joe 9:15 I'm going to be talking about the book Lobizona by Romina Garber. It's kind of a different book, then, you know, other young adult things that I've read. It's a fantasy book, and it kind of centers around this Argentine folk tale about werewolves. The main character, Manu lives in an apartment with her mother and an older woman who's kind of like her homeschool teacher. And so her, her and her mother are undocumented. They live in Miami, and they had fled Argentina and so there's, you know, at the beginning of the book, there's all these kind of mysteries that you don't, you don't really know why things are the way they are. And you're kind of on the same page as Manu the main character. And so she's, she's trying to sort through all these mysteries. So on the one level, there's this mystery of her father, she doesn't know her father. She believes her father died. But his family is like this criminal organization and they're kind of on the run from them. So they have to stay low, and they don't want to be found out. Then there's this other mystery, she has these like, really magnificent eyes, her eyes are like, her irises are like star shaped. And they're like bright yellow. And so like, she can't go out in public, because the minute anybody saw her eyes, it would like give her away and, and they're trying to like, stay undercover. So she, like can't really leave the house that much. And when she does, she has to wear sunglasses. But then you add on top of that, you know, her and her mother are undocumented in Miami and so they are also trying to stay under the radar, because they're afraid of being deported, of being, you know, there being an ICE raid. And unfortunately, that's exactly what happens, and her mother gets detained by ICE. And so she's left on her own, Manu. And she has to sort of figure things out, she has to figure out who her father is, why, why they're on the run, and and then she has to figure out what's up with her crazy eyes. And she does figure it out. So and, you know, kind of takes all kinds of turns. So she ends up in the Florida Everglades. And she discovers this kind of Hogwarts esque school of kids who also have, you know, crazy looking eyes, like these these star shaped eyes. And it turns out that in this school, the, the boys are all werewolves, and the girls are witches. And so they all have these powers. And it you know, it ties back into this, this folk tale about the werewolves and, and so, the Manu she, she doesn't know she has powers. But she knows that she has these eyes like they do. So she kind of has to find herself. I don't want to give too much away, because I feel like one of the cool things about this book is it all kind of builds up over the course of the book. And you're like figuring things out the whole time. And, and and you're going through with mine and she she you know, she's 17 years old, and she's trying to figure out who she is, and how she fits into all this. And then you add on that, that she might be like a witch or a werewolf or something. And she has these powers. So the fun of it is that, you know, it kind of really builds up over the course of the book, The the kind of scope of what's going on.

Emily 13:17 Very cool. So you, when we were talking before the episode started, you said this is a very new book, right? It just came out.

Joe 13:23 Yes! It came out in August 2020.

Emily 13:27 Is it going to be part of a series or is this just a one, a standalone?

Joe 13:30 So there is...there is a sequel. I'm not sure how many are planned. But there's a sequel coming out next August. August 2021. But I would say that the book is, you know, the first book, it doesn't like totally conclusively wrap up but it, I would say it's satisfying. A lot of questions get answered.

Emily 13:51 It sounds like it's a very timely novel. With all, like with the undocumented immigrants and the raid by ICE. What age group would you say this is for?

Joe 14:01 Yeah, I would say it's, it's a definitely a high school, high school audience. There's like a moderate amount of romance. It's not like a major, you know, part of the plot, but but there is, you know, romance, and, you know, these kids are all like 17 and 18. So I feel like a high school audience would be would kind of understand what the kids are going through. I think that you know, it's kind of a good match. Like, you know, if you read if kids read Harry Potter or Percy Jackson when they were younger, and they're kind of looking for something that might keep their attention in the same way this would be a good option for them because it has like, the similar elements of like, finding a friend group that and you like go on adventures with your group and just finding yourself and understanding like having these crazy, like, powers and how to be a teenager at the same time.

Emily 15:05 Yeah, it sounds like the fantasy and adventure elements would definitely lend themselves to that. And also the fact that it's based on an Argentine folk lore definitely lends to those kind of like folklore or mythology elements of Percy Jackson. So those sound like great read-alikes. What do you know the author? Did you look up to see is she from Argentina as well? So is it like an own voices work?

Joe 15:28 Yes, it is an own voices! Yes. So she, so she was born in Argentina, and she left Argentina when she was younger, I think, and grew up in Miami. So like the character, although I think that she says in her biography that, you know, she wasn't like, her that, when she was growing up her dad had had, you know, a visa and, you know, like, she didn't go through the exact same experiences. Also, she wasn't a werewolf.

Emily 15:59 Okay, or a witch, that we know of. (Laughing)

Joe 16:03 Right, that we know of

Emily 16:04 Awesome. So own voices, fantasy, and folklore. It sounds like a really interesting book, and it's brand new. It was not on my radar at all. So thank you so much for sharing that with us.

Joe 16:14 Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.

Emily 16:17 And those are book recommendations for this episode. Thanks, Heather, and Joe, for being guests on the Planet Book Podcast.

Heather 16:23 Thank you for having us.

Joe 16:24 Thanks for having me


Emily 16:27 This is our 10th episode. And I would like to mention all of the people who make this podcast possible. Joe, who not only does the sound editing and post-production work on all of our episodes, but he also created our theme music. The Community Relations and Web Development departments at the Springfield-Greene County Library District who designed the podcast logo, all of our promotional materials, and our podcast website. My wonderful co-workers and friends who agreed to be guests and talk book recommendations with me. And finally, our listeners. I hope you have enjoyed hearing book recommendations from the book experts at the Springfield-Greene County Library. Remember to talk to the staff at your local library branch to get more great book recommendations. Or you can log on to the library website at to see new books and click on the Your Next Read banner to get personalized reading recommendations. Thank you for listening to the Planet Book Podcast.

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