Monday, July 10, 2017

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet - Tom Angleberger

Title: The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet
Author: Tom Angleberger
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 2 Stars

Origami Yoda has used his Jedi-wise advice to help the kids at McQuarrie Middle School conquer all sorts of enemies, from dull school dances to embarrassing water stains. But this semester, Dwight, Tommy, Sara, and the gang must face their deadliest enemy yet: the FunTime Education System. Meant to raise standardized test scores, the mind-numbing videos of Professor FunTime and his singing calculator are driving everybody crazy! And worse yet, to make time for FunTime, all electives--drama, art, band--have been canceled!

Naturally, the kids turn to Origami Yoda for help, but her tells them that this enemy is far too strong for him to fight alone. If they want to get their favorite classes back, they must form a Rebel Alliance. Soon dozens of kids, each with his or her own origami puppet, join the Alliance. But will the Force be with them--or will they be defeated by the FunTime menace?

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet is the fifth book in the Origami Yoda series, by Tom Angleberger.  This book revolves around the frustration that the kids at McQuarrie Middle School feel about standardized tests and the new educational system designed to help them do better on said tests.  Tommy and his friends, understandably, are insulted at the fact that they have to watch FunTime videos that contain dancing calculators, then do corresponding worksheets that are geared towards kids much younger than them.  So they decide to do something about it.  They come up with a plan to do so poorly on their tests that it brings down the school's average - they hope this will force the principal to get rid of FunTime.

Anyway, throughout their journey to alleviate the school of FunTime, Tommy and his friends engage in making themselves origami finger puppets based on Star Wars characters, because they all have to be a member of the rebellion somehow!  They also work hard to get other kids from 6, 7, and 8 grade to sign up for the "rebellion" against FunTime. 

The characters are all right in this book - they are pretty standard middle grade book characters.  I didn't dislike them, but I didn't feel any huge attachment to any of them either.  The thing I found a little unbelievable was that Ms. Rabske was somewhat mean for a principal.  I don't think anyone who goes into school administration would be mean to kids or talk to kids like they are idiots. 

The story was a decent idea, but the author wrote it like he felt that the kids reading it would be completely stupid.  Dear authors, kids are not stupid.  We all need to write for kids like they are actually smart and capable!  After all, how are they supposed to learn if everything they read is dumbed down or written like it could be read by kids who are years younger than them?

I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone over the age of 6 (and that's saying something because it's written for middle grade kids.)

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