If you've always wanted to take an origami class, but haven't been able to find one in your community, Origami 101: Master Basic Skills and Techniques Easily through Step-by-Step Instruction is the next best thing. More than just another origami book for beginners, this title helps you develop a solid foundation in the art of paper folding through written instructions and a companion DVD.
Diversity of Projects
Author Benjamin John Coleman is best known for his origami bonsai arrangements, but Origami 101 covers a diverse array of projects for beginners. You'll learn how to fold a tropical fish, a parakeet, a pigeon, a lily, an eight-point star, and more. The book is missing coverage of practical origami projects, however. If you are most interested in making envelopes, boxes, or bags, this probably isn't the title for you.
Even though Origami 101 isn't marketed as a book for children, I feel like this title would be a good choice for an older child who wants to learn origami. I would guess that children ages 10 and up could handle most of the projects with a bit of adult assistance.
Ease of Use
Origami 101: Master Basic Skills and Techniques Easily through Step-by-Step Instruction has a spiral binding that lays flat for easy reference. The book is organized according to the base that each project uses. All projects begin using the kite shape, collapsed square, basic form, or collapsed triangle. This approach to organization teaches the reader to see connections between projects. To get the most out of the book's organizational strategy, it would be best to work straight through each chapter instead of jumping around and folding whatever catches your eye.
I thought the "Other Things You Can Do" tips throughout the book were a nice touch. These tips encourage the reader to make slight alterations to the model to personalize it. They are a great way to get the beginning folder thinking about how to design projects instead of just mindlessly following directions.
If you're having trouble with a particular model in the book, Origami 101 comes with a DVD that has video instructions for each of the models in the book. I'm not a huge fan of videos myself, but it is nice to have two options for learning how to fold a project.
Origami 101 also includes a small selection of specially designed origami paper so you can duplicate the look of some of the projects in the book. My favorite is the white, black, and orange paper that can be used to make several different types of origami birds. The DVD also includes files for printing more of the origami paper designs using your home computer.
Quality of Illustrations
The instructions for each model in Origami 101 are a mixture of diagrams and photos. Both traditional symbols and written explanations are used to show you how to complete each step, so there is less of an opportunity for confusion than you'd find in a typical origami book for the beginning paper folder.
One thing I found very useful with this book is the addition of the "glow" and "afterglow" in the illustrated instructions. When explaining how to fold a model, Coleman uses a red glow to indicate that a part of the model is about to be folded. When the paper has just been folded, a glowing outline shows up in the spaces where the glow would escape from the open edges. This makes it much easier to follow along with the steps of a project.