Monday, February 03, 2014

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet (An Origami Yoda Book) by Tom Angleberger

Borrowed from the Camden County Library System

This is the 4th book in the Origami Yoda series and this stuff never gets old.  This one actually felt a little more grown up and important..  It turns out that McQuarrie Middle School students didn't do so well on the last round of standardized testing.  Because of that the entire educational system there has been changed.  All extracurricular activities have been canceled and they had some pretty awesome clubs, programs and activities there.  Instead, they have been replaced with an inane program called Fun Time.  

Dwight has returned to McQuarrie with Origami Yoda and he manages to start a revolution to rid the school of Fun Time.  While Principal Rabbski seems to be their enemy in this, it turns out that she's really in a crappy position. She's not responsible for Fun Time.  She's been told by the school board that it's being implemented in her school.  The students hate it and start a rebellion to get rid of Fun Time and get their activities back. 

By the end of the book, a meeting is called with all of the parents to discuss the rebellion and Fun Time.  At that point, Dwight reveals to his friends the spot that Principal Rabbski is in. Angleberger not only manages to introduce new origami Star Wars characters, he continues to give us a school full of very realistic and interesting children. Tommy, Dwight, Jen, Harvey, Sara, and the rest tell their parts in the story and clearly show the problem with teaching strictly what will appear on standardized tests.  

As an adult, the implications of what is happening at McQuarrie Middle School is just indicative of a disturbing trend in education.  There are plenty of ways in which school budgets and this new system of teaching children has changed the face of education and not in a good way.  I don't know exactly what Angleberger's intended audience will take away from this story.  I do think that students joining together to find ways to right wrongs, even when the way they do it involves rebellion, is a great message. I'll be waiting to see what happens when this story continues in the next book.  

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