THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA by Tom Angleburger, is laugh out loud funny, mostly because it is so, so, so, true to most of the middle school kids I know. The book is presented as a "case file," created by a sixth grader named Tommy. Tommy is researching the verity of the Origami Yoda, a finger puppet made by Dwight, who is possibly one of the weirdest kids in the sixth grade. It seems that students in the sixth grade have been taking their major life issues, e.g. how do you not cry when you can't hit a softball, or what do you do to the school bully who has just broken three of your brand new personalized pencils, to the Origami Yoda. Yoda (or Dwight) provides helpful advice to the sixth graders. Tommy needs to find out whether the advice is true, because he wants to ask Yoda about the possibility of a relationship with a certain sixth grade girl. I cannot wait to get back to school and share this with all my DIARY OF A WIMPY KID reading friends. I know they are going to love it.
The second book, BECAUSE OF MR. TERUPT, is another book that is sure to be a winner with my fifth and sixth grade friends. MR. TERUPT chronicles the year of a fifth grade class, as told through the eyes of seven students in the class. Jessica has just moved cross country and is working through her mom and dad's divorce. Peter is the class clown/trouble maker. Luke is the class genius. Anna is the shy girl, being raised by her single mom, who was only 16 when she had her. Jeffrey is a kid who hates school, probably at least partly because he is working through the grief of a difficult family secret. The class comes together under the leadership of their amazing first-year teacher, Mr. Terupt. Midway through the year, a terrible accident puts Mr. Terupt into a coma, and the students have to work through their role in his injury.
This is a really good read, perfect for just about any kid in a fifth or sixth grade class (someone on Twitter commented that the kids seemed more like sixth graders than fifth graders and I think I would tend to agree with her). The book would be a great read aloud because just about any intermediate grade student would love the strong story line. Kids in the story are dealing with some really important issues- community, peer pressure, bullying, divorce, grief- and I know the book would open the door for rich conversations. Most of the chapters are relatively short, which would make the book perfect for even the most reluctant intermediate grade reader. Another book I can't wait to get into the hands of kids after break!