Tom Angleberger on origami, karaoke and great children's books

Tom Angleberger on origami, karaoke and great children's books
Tom Angleberger, author of the "Origami Yoda" books for middle-graders. (Abrams Books)

Tom Angleberger is the author and illustrator of the bestselling Origami Yoda series of books for middle-grade kids. In the books, Dwight is an awkward sixth-grader who uses a Yoda finger puppet to communicate with his classmates. The character isn't exactly based on himself -- but he admits "we both know what it's like to be the wierdest kid in school." Angleberger's books include "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda," "Darth Paper Strikes Back," "The Secret of the Fortune Wookie," and the forthcoming how-to book "Art-2D2s Guide to Folding and Doodling," along with "Fake Mustache" and "Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset." He's coming to the L.A. Times Festival of Books in April and answered our questions by email.

Are you, or do you know, any brilliant origami folders?


I am not. Despite decades of dabbling, I'm still not very good. But I've been lucky enough to know some great folders, including Chris Alexander, author of "Star Wars Origami." My dream is to meet Fumiaki Kawahata, creator of the Origami Yoda that is in constant circulation on the Internet. It's a beautiful fold... and it's the one that inspired me to write my book!

What have you been reading lately?

I'm currently reading "Cold Cereal" by Adam Rex and "John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood" by Michael Sellers. Next up is probably one of this year's Newbery Honor Books, "Splendors and Glooms." (I've already read this year's Newbery, "The One and Only Ivan," of course. A terrific choice by the Newbery committee!)

Are you looking forward to anything at the Festival of Books this year?

Last year I was sort of overwhelmed by all the excitement and raced through on adrenaline. This year, I'm hoping to slow down and enjoy my time on stage a little bit more! And then I LOVE the chance to meet readers, sign their books and talk Star Wars a bit.

Will you be doing anything in Los Angeles apart from the festival?

Last year, after the festival I sang karaoke with Jeff Kinney. I can't imagine what could top that, but I'm willing to try!
Do you have a favorite book that involves Los Angeles?

YES! "The Neddiad" by Daniel Pinkwater! This Chicago kid, Ned, moves to L.A. and gets mixed up with movie stars, a ghost, saber-tooth tigers and the end of the world! It is proof that you do not need to write "simple" books for kids. This book is complicated, funny, deep, crazy, mind-blowing and absolutely wonderful!


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