Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus

Read you must all of Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda books before proceeding! This is the sixth (and final?) book in the series, and I don’t want to spoil things for you…but I will! (I’m extremely in touch with the Dark Side of the Force!) Before picking up Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus, make sure to read these prequels (which I guarantee are better than the actual Star Wars prequels).

Well, it’s been quite a ride. I read my first Origami Yoda book nearly three years ago, and I finished the sixth book last night. As far as I know, Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus is the last book in this highly entertaining (and thought-provoking) series, but I’m still hoping that this is not the last we’ve seen of Origami Yoda and friends. To borrow from Princess Leia…

Help me, Tom Angleberger. You’re my only hope…

Anyway, Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus picks up where Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue ended, and the kids from McQuarrie Middle School are in for yet another adventure…one without Origami Yoda!

Now that the FunTime Menace is no more, the students of McQuarrie Middle now get to enjoy things like elective classes and, of course, their highly anticipated field trip to Washington, DC. But what will they do when Rabbski, their principal-turned-math-teacher declares that origami–especially Origami Yoda–is off-limits? How will these seventh graders survive without the sage advice of Origami Yoda?!

Have no fear! Dwight is here…with a bunch of Fruit Roll-Ups he folds into Fruitigami Yodas. Unfortunately, the vile Harvey also comes prepared with EMPEROR PICKLETINE, the most evil, sour, and smelly being in the galaxy! Harvey and Emperor Pickletine seem bent on ruining this field trip, and the Dark Side may be more powerful than anyone realized. Is Fruitigami Yoda strong enough to fight this new threat?

As the seventh graders of McQuarrie Middle explore Washington, DC (and get into a fair amount of trouble), a battle is brewing between the Dark and Light Sides of the Force.

Who will win? Will Yoda come through for the Origami Rebellion one more time? Well, I can’t say. But I can tell you that this final battle is full of mischief-making, fisticuffs, space food, and even a little bit of smooching! I’ll leave it to you to find out who does what!

_______________

What can I say about this series that hasn’t already been said? It’s opened up so many cool conversations between my students and me. (They are fully aware of my love for all things Star Wars.) I know Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus will only add to those conversations…though I have to admit I may steer them away from making origami figures with pickles. Yuck!

I realize this may be the last Origami Yoda book–at least for a while–but I think I’ll be enjoying this series with my students for many years to come. (I still think we’ll see more from Origami Yoda. After all, we never thought we’d get Episodes VII, VIII, and IX of Star Wars either!)

To learn more about all things Origami Yoda, click here. You may also want to check out the video below. May the Force be with you!

Capture the Flag

Hello, dear readers! 2012 is almost at an end, and this will likely be my last recap/review of the year. (I’m planning to read something completely mindless for the remainder of the year.) Tomorrow, I will do a year-end wrap-up post, but, for now, let me talk about my latest read. It’s Capture the Flag by Kate Messner. This book is a contemporary mystery that is an excellent read for upper elementary and middle grade readers. Any young (or older) readers intrigued by the Indiana Jones or National Treasure movies will find something to enjoy in this first installment in what is sure to be a gripping new series.

A flag has been stolen from the Smithsonian, but this is not just any flag. It’s the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Who would dare to take such a priceless piece of American history? What could the possible motive be? It’s not like this would be something that could be easily sold, so why would someone take something that means so much to so many? That’s what a few curious kids are going to find out…

Anna, Henry, and José are snowed in at the airport in Washington, DC, and, when they hear about the theft of the newly restored flag, they become convinced that whoever took the flag must be snowed in as well. What starts as a way to pass the time soon becomes a quest to uncover a mystery with the potential to shake the nation. Along the way, they’ll encounter a man running for president (who has an odd fondness for Tootsie Rolls), tuba players from Pakistan, a guy with a snake tattoo, and a really large poodle.

They’ll also discover that they share a common bond. Anna, Henry, and José are all descended from artists or artisans who’ve sworn to protect the world’s artistic treasures. So what choice do they really have?! They must find the stolen flag before someone points the finger at the wrong person. But what can three kids do in a crowded airport with tight security? A whole lot, apparently. (As it turns out, airport security–at least in this story–isn’t designed to thwart three pre-teen detectives.)

As these three kids attempt to reveal the truth, they’ll step into a mess with huge ramifications. Can they get out of this safely and still uncover who’s behind the flag theft? And will they be prepared for what they eventually find? Who really captured the flag? Find out when you read this exciting tale of mystery and adventure by Kate Messner!

Even though I’m not exactly thrilled about returning to school on Wednesday, I am looking forward to sharing this book with my students. It has lots of literary allusions that I think many of my students–particularly fans of Harry Potter–will enjoy. I also know of several of my male students who will love this book simply because it’ll remind them of National Treasure. This book, while predictable for many adult readers, will keep younger readers enthralled from the first page. Even younger readers may think they know who is behind the theft, but it’s still a bit thrilling to read how this mystery reaches its inevitable conclusion. I will say, though, that the adults in this book were totally oblivious to what was going on around them. As a fine, upstanding adult (yeah, I couldn’t even type that while keeping a straight face), I was a little perturbed by how little these grown-ups noticed what these kids were doing. Young readers, though, will enjoy that a group of kids got up to all of these shenanigans right under adults’ noses.

If any of this has piqued your interest, I urge you to give Capture the Flag a try. The second book in the series, Hide and Seek, is due for an April 2013 release. You can visit the author’s website or check out her Twitter feed to learn even more.