Weekly Feature

2014-09-10 / Front Page

Children’s ‘Star Wars’ author to appear at Clarence Middle


Tom Angleberger Tom Angleberger For young “Star Wars” fans, a children’s series based on the science fiction space saga has been entertaining the smallest Jedis in the universe since 2010.

“The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” was the first in a series of books by author Tom Angleberger, and revolves around the miscellaneous adventures of a sixth-grade class. The book also includes instructions on how to create a paper Yoda finger puppet.

The success of “Yoda” allowed Angleberger to continue the series with titles such as “Darth Paper Strikes Back” and “The Secrets of the Fortune Wookiee,” each featuring new origami characters that young readers can make at home.

The final book in the series — “Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus” — was released last month, and now Angleberger is embarking on a cross-continental tour in support of it. The tour begins this Saturday, Sept. 13, with a special appearance at 11 a.m. at Clarence Middle School.

Angleberger recently spoke with The Bee about the upcoming tour, his affinity for Star Wars and how he turned his passion into a best-selling series.

“I am a huge, huge ‘Star Wars’ fan, and I have also been doing origami for a long time,” Angleberger said. “I never thought of putting the two together until I saw on the Internet that someone had actually made an origami Yoda. It’s an amazing design made by a Japanese origami master, and I flipped out because they were two things that I love.

“Unfortunately, the design was very difficult and I couldn’t do it, so I made my own simple version, and when I was done, it sat on my finger like a finger puppet.”

That puppet set off a creative firestorm, encouraging the ideas that developed into the Origami Yoda series, which now has more than 5 million copies in print.

Married to author Cece Bell, Angleberger began his writing career as a newspaper journalist, moving to fiction writing by developing the story of Horton Halfpott — a different children’s adventure set in a castle.

“It was my first book I wrote but not the first to come out,” he said. “There were many rejections, delays and such between writing that book and Origami Yoda.”

With “Emperor Pickletine,” the seventh book in the series, the Virginia-based writer is hoping to give some closure to loyal readers who have been following his characters.

“I know a lot of my readers from when I published the first book were getting older and getting learners permits and dating, so I wanted to finish the story for them.” He said. “To me, the story I set out to tell is finished now.

“It’s very much about ‘Star Wars,’ but it’s more about kids who love ‘Star Wars,’ and the story of those kids is finished. But who knows what might happen when the new ‘Star Wars’ films come out — maybe I will be inspired.”

And as he says goodbye to one ‘Star Wars’ journey in his life, another one is just beginning for Angleberger.

“Something really amazing happened to me,” he said. “Lucasfilm, who has been great to me throughout the whole Origami series, called me up and asked me to write a novelization of ‘Return of the Jedi.’

“It’s been so much fun, and I have had so much fun doing it.”

Tickets to the Angleberger author event at Clarence Middle are free and can be acquired by calling Monkey See, Monkey Do Bookstore at 204-8417 or by emailing the store at books@monkeysread.com.

The bookstore, located at 9060 Main St., will host a special VIP reception with Angleberger specifically for local teachers and educators from 9 to 9:30 a.m., before his middle school appearance. Those interested in attending should reserve a spot by calling the bookstore.

email: sjagord@beenews.com

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