The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a very great first book to a very interesting book series. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is about a bunch of 6th grade middle school kids who make case file trying to decode the mysterious origami Yoda and the kids who makes Yoda, Dwight. Tom Angleberger’s book is a masterpiece of humor, storytelling, and funny drawings. The book even contains a little middle school romance.

Two things that make this book unique is the way it tells the story and drawings. The way this book story is told is through many different peoples perspective. This book is case file, so a lot of different people tell different funny stories in the book. The drawings all over the book really makes the book stand out. You got give Tom Angleberger and Jason Rosenstock, the two people who drew all over the books. The drawings inside the book make the book more teen-friendly. And, an added bonus to this epic case file, there are instructions on the last page on how to fold a legit origami Yoda! This book is a book I would recommend to all ages. Make sure to get it!

-Brandon D.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements

Lunch Money is the story of Greg Kenton’s comic book business in middle school. Ever since he was a kid, Greg has liked making money and having money. He mows lawns, shovels snow, and walks dogs for money. When Greg finishes fourth grade, his dad tells him to put his money into a bank where he’ll earn interest. Then, in fifth grade, Greg forgets his lunch. A school lunch is two dollars and he only has one dollar and fifty cents. He asks his teacher if he can borrow fifty cents but she says no. Then the teacher asks the class if anyone has an extra fifty cents that Greg could borrow. Most of the class raise their hands and Greg realizes something. He calculates that around a hundred dollars in extra money comes into the school every week. Greg then makes a plan to sell candy and gum. However he soon stops because the students take the candy and gum into classrooms which is against the rules and could get Greg in trouble. Instead of flat out stopping, Greg starts selling toys, but soon the kids get tired of the toys. Greg then also stops selling toys right around the end of fifth grade, but he has an idea. By the start of sixth grade, Greg has multiple handmade comics that he’s ready to sell. He chooses comics because they’re like books and teachers love books. He names his comics Creon: Return of the Hunter. However, like always, his neighbor Maura Shaw copies his idea and also starts making her own comics. This leads to a big fight between the two. Eventually the two come together to make comics. The principle soon finds out and tells them that nothing is allowed to be sold at the school. In response, Maura and Greg go to a city council to argue the school’s decision. The compromise they come to is that Maura and Greg get to make a store in school for their comics, but the school gets 10% of their sales. The council agrees and the comics continue to be made.

-Emilio V.

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Overdrive

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder is a book about Auggie Pullman. Auggie was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome which affects bone development.  Because of this, Auggie is always the odd one out. On his first day at Beecher Prep, Auggie’s new middle school he gets a tour of the school with Jack, Julian, and some other kids. Straight away Julian is rude and mean towards Auggie, but Jack is nice. As the year progresses, the students get used to how he looks and befriend Auggie. But shortly after a rumor spreads that touching Auggie will give you the plague. This makes the kids avoid Auggie once again. Then Halloween, Auggie’s favorite holiday, comes around. Auggie decides to dress up as Bloody Scream. As he’s walking into class, he hears Jack say that if he looked like Auggie he would kill himself. Jack had no idea that Auggie heard him. Auggie stops talking to Jack, and so Jack asks Auggie’s new best friend Summer why he’s mad. Summer response is Bloody Scream. Soon Jack realizes that he had seen Auggie in a Bloody Scream costume standing at the door to the class. Jack immediately regrets what he said and apologizes to Auggie. Then one day Julian tells Jack that being friends with Auggie isn’t worth it. This makes Jack angry and so he punches Julian in the face.  Because of that incident, after winter break Julian turns all the boys in their grade against Jack and Auggie, launching some kind of war. After a while however, kids get tired of their little war and become friends with Auggie. The book ends at a three day nature retreat. One day at night Jack and Auggie go into the woods because Jack has to pee. While in the woods, Auggie and Jack run into kids from a different school. The kids make fun of Auggie until three kids from Beecher Prep that normally also make fun of Auggie stand up for him. Then later on back at the school Auggie wins an award for courage and kindness. Everyone wants to be Auggie’s friend now and he’s no longer the odd one out.

– Emilio V.

Wonder by R.J Palacio is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Libary.

Film Review: Wonder

Recently, I watched the film Wonder which is told through four points of view: Auggie for most of the movie, his older sister Olivia, or “Via”, her friend Miranda, and Jack Will, a boy that will be revealed later on. The story is about Auggie who has a facial deformity. Because of this, he was homeschooled his whole life. However, his mother thinks that since he’s going into the fifth grade, which is the start of middle school, he should attend a public school. Before school starts, he meets Julian, Charlotte, and Jack Will. Finally, the first day of school rolls around. However, it doesn’t go too well for Auggie since all the kids avoid him like the plague. Soon, he becomes friends with Jack Will.

Auggie’s favorite holiday is Halloween. It’s his favorite holiday because he can wear a costume where no one can see his face. The day before Halloween, Auggie tells Jack that he’s going to dress up as Boba Fett. But, his dog Daisy threw up on his costume, causing him to reuse an old Ghost Face costume. However, a secret ends up being revealed causing Auggie to freak out at school and having to come home. He’s so upset that he even doesn’t want to go trick or treating. His sister ends up convincing him to go by giving him some of her candy. Throughout the movie, Auggie is tormented mainly from Julian and his “gang”. Some of the things were seriously messed up like photoshopping Auggie out of the class photo!

As the movie progresses on, we see the different obstacles everyone faces, like a loved one passin and someone’s first main role in a play.

This film has some great laughs, friendship, some romance, and some tears. This movie changed the way I see the world and how I see others a little. If you’re looking for a great movie to watch, I recommend the movie, Wonder. On second thought, read the book first, because the books are always better than the movies (sometimes).

-Phoebe L.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Required Reading

As students, we’ve all experienced novels in English class that are required for us to read. Sometimes these books turn out to be good and other times, not so much. Personally, I have disliked most of the books I’ve been required to read for a number of reasons. However, I can see the benefits to required reading as it is done through the school system.

There are certainly some advantages to required reading material in school. One could be that the book causes students to branch out of their comfort zone, as far as books go, and help them pursue a new genre that they, normally, would not have read by themselves. This advantage holds true to me, since I am someone who has no trouble re-reading Harry Potter for the zillionth time. I find it interesting if we read a book in class that I would not have otherwise wanted to read.

Required reading can help to grow vocabulary, reading, and writing proficiency. If a student was to go to a library and pick out any book, they would most likely pick one they like or are comfortable with reading. In school, students do not have the luxury of choosing which books to read, and therefore are subject to harder vocabulary and sentence types in higher level books written by authors with insanely confusing diction. This relates to my English class experiences with A Tale of Two Cities which challenged my reading and writing proficiency greatly. Although these examples may make required reading seem great, students may also find themselves despising any book they are forced to read and make it harder for the student to get involved in the class or homework.

A solution to this problem would be to give students a list of different books they can read, all out of their comfort zone of genre and reading proficiency level, and give them the choice of which book they would like to read. This gives students the idea that they themselves are choosing what they want to read which may result in fewer students being uninterested or unfocused while keeping a challenging level of reading and vocabulary along with it.

-Kyle H.

What are your thoughts on required reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Hoot is one of my favorite books of all time. The author, Carl Hiaasen, masterfully weaves different stories into the book to finally merge into one, beautifully composed masterpiece.

Roy Eberhardt is the new kid–again. This time around it’s Trace Middle School in humid Coconut Grove, Florida. But it’s still the same old routine: table by himself at lunch, no real friends, and thick-headed bullies like Dana Matherson pushing him around.

But if it wasn’t for Dana Matherson mashing his face against the school bus window that one day, he might never have seen the tow-headed running boy. And if he had never seen the running boy, he might never have met tall, tough, bully-beating Beatrice. And if he had never met Beatrice, he might never have discovered the burrowing owls living in the lot on the corner of East Oriole Avenue. And if he had never discovered the owls, he probably would have missed out on the adventure of a lifetime. Apparently, bullies do serve a greater purpose in the scope of the universe. Because if it wasn’t for Dana Matherson….

Roy’s whole fiasco wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Carl Hiaasen plunges readers right into the middle of an ecological mystery, made up of endangered miniature (and super cute!) owls, the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House scheduled to be built over their burrows, and the owls’ unlikely allies–three middle school kids determined to beat the screwed-up adult system.

As I read this book, I was grinning and thinking how cool the three main characters were. And beware–because once you pick up this book…you can’t put it down, because it is truly a hoot.

-Katherine L.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

Middle school shouldn’t be a time for people to be put under so much stress. But, Fern, a twelve-year-old girl, has to deal with much more than she should.

Her father is constantly trying to boost business for the family restaurant, and unfortunately, Fern often gets pulled into the mess, being forced to wear stupid t-shirts for ads. Her mother is always meditating, and on the rare occasion that she’s not, she’s doting over Fern’s three-year-old brother Charlie, who always gets what he wants.

As if that weren’t enough, her two older siblings are dealing with their own problems that often end up affecting the entire family. Sarah, her older sister, is taking a gap year after high school and is busy avoiding work, while Holden, Fern’s brother, is focused on making himself believe that his parents don’t realize that he’s gay.

But then something catastrophic happens – something Fern would have never expected, and it changes all of their lives tremendously. Ran is Fern’s only solace in this huge mess, with his soothing presence, and his t-shirts with positive and encouraging quotes. She must rely on his mantra: “all will be well” to convince herself that she will be able to get through all of this.

I didn’t really know anything about this book before reading it, but I was looking for something to read, and thought this book looked interesting. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was and read the whole thing in one day. The book itself isn’t very long-so it’s a fairly quick read. But, it is pretty deep, and it’s definitely filled with a lot of emotion.

Although the author, Jo Knowles, did grow up helping out at her parent’s family restaurant, the characters in this book are fictional. However I felt that she did an amazing job at describing and developing these characters. I could easily imagine a family like Fern’s to be out there somewhere.

I really love this book despite the fact that it is very sad. If you do end up reading it, which I highly recommend doing, make sure to have a tissue box nearby.

-Elina T.