Although I’m a fan of Tom Angleberger in general and the Origami Yoda series in particular, his newest installment made me want to stand up and cheer, like at the end of Episode IV when Luke, Han, and Chewie enter the Throne Room to receive medals from Princess Leia. Yeah, like that.
The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett (Origami Yoda #4) has Dwight, Tommy, Kellen, Sara, and company facing a worthy enemy: FunTime, an insidious videotape series starring a goofy professor and an asinine singing calculator purchased by the McQuarrie School administration to improve scores on standardized tests. The kids understandably hate FunTime, and the Origami Rebel Alliance is born, furtively led by Origami Yoda. The Alliance recruits other students to do poorly on the tests so that FunTime will be declared a failure and actual fun will be allowed to return to their school. But Ms. Rabbski, the Sithian principal, discovers the plot and the war is on.
I wish this was pure fantasy. It’s not. The first time I received an email from a company selling pep assemblies designed to inspire students to do well on tests, I thought it was a joke. Some joke. Schools are spending tax dollars on performers to rev up students not to help each other or society in general, but to get excited about sharpening their number-two pencils and wisely choosing which answer sheet bubbles to fill in.
The Origami Rebel Alliance of McQuarrie School, led by sixth graders and origami finger puppets, is doing exactly what those of us concerned about standardized testing trends need to do. And they are not alone. I won’t go to Planet Spoiler here, but the ending of The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett is perfect. Let’s just say there are more rebels than those in the Alliance. Get ready to cheer.