Oggie CooderTitle: Oggie Cooder
Author: Sarah Weeks
ISBN: 0439927919
Pages: 172 pages
Publisher/Date: Scholastic Press, c2008.

“Over the years, Oggie’s teachers had found all kinds of interesting ways to describe him — unique, quirky, one-of-a-kind. Last year, in third grade, Oggie’s teacher, Mrs. Stifler, had said that Oggie marched to the beat of a different drummer. Oggie had found that comment surprising, considering the only instrument he knew how to play was the kazoo, and Mrs. Stifler had specifically told him never to bring it to school again because it was a) incredibly annoying and b) extremely spitty.” (19)

Fourth-grader Oggie Cooder is slightly odd, whether it be in his choice of patterned clothing from his parent’s resale shop, or his sentences dealing with a failed bagel naming contest cropping up in a spelling test. Since life can be stressful, Oggie deals with it in a unique way, “charving.” Charving is carving cheese into shapes, and Oggie particularly enjoys making the shapes of the United States. When a television talent show rolls in to town for auditions, he gains fame, a manager, and the popularity he had been missing. But does Oggie really want what comes with his new found fame? Does Oggie win the contest with his charving talent, or will the kid who can make his rabbit faint with onion breath win the top cash prize? Find out.

I read this book after Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and I kept thinking maybe the two went to the same school, and Oggie left the cheese on the playground blacktop, which later played a role in Greg Heffley’s life. Books cause strange things to happen in my brain. This book however is quite a fast read. You can’t help but love Oggie as he stumbles into becoming famous, and then has to deal with the results. I could see kids trying this trick themselves after reading the book, to see just how difficult it is to carve Texas out of cheese (or bread, or whatever flat, square food item they had available). I think Hawaii would be the hardest, but I haven’t tried it myself. The book shows that talent doesn’t have to be the more obvious musical or athletic ability, and that they can all be envyied for their own reasons. Oggie learns the important lesson of being yourself is all that really matters, but it’s not pounded into place like some other books. You’ll be rooting for Oggie the entire time.

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