Saturday, May 9, 2015

‘Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus’

Book cover: Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger. Cover image depicts origami-folded, black robe wearing puppet with a green pickle slice for a face and red candies for eyes.
Tom Angleberger brings his best-selling Origami Yoda series to its conclusion in Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus (Abrams, 2014). This story continues in the “case file” format in which students at McQuarrie Middle School contribute their observations and experiences.

In The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, a student named Dwight dispensed advice through a folded Yoda finger puppet. Did the advice come from Dwight or was Origami Yoda real?

As the series progresses, more and more students adopt finger puppets of their own, all consistent with the mannerisms of Lucas Films’ Star Wars characters, with names evocative both of the character and the medium used to create the puppet. Thus we have the Fortune Wookiee, Han Foldo, Foldy-Wan, Princess Labelmaker and Darth Paper.

The students led a Rebel Alliance to defeat standardized tests and win back their field trip, which is the subject of this final book.

The stakes are high: during field trips, “everything can change” according to Origami Yoda. “Like soap opera on a bus they are.”

A “no origami” rule traps the students during a several hours-long bus ride at the mercy of Emperor Pickletine, a finger puppet who was smuggled aboard by Harvey. But Origami Yoda has apparently foreseen this eventuality. Dwight is armed with Fruit Roll-Up sheet candies that can be folded and then eaten to hide the evidence.

I enjoyed the suspense, drama and humor that infused adolescent concerns with the Star Wars epic films. Best of all, while this is billed as “the final book” in the Origami Yoda series, the ending leaves a clear possibility for adventures to continue. Just as Star Wars fans have continued the films’ and books’ storylines, perhaps fan fiction will similarly chronicle further adventures of Origami Yoda.

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