Fourth-grader Oggie Cooder is often described by teachers as unique, odd and quirky, while other kids consider him to be a weirdo, a dork and a doofus. Neither Oggie nor his parents are disheartened by these names. Mom and dad are proud that Oggie is so different, wearing mismatched clothes from their thrift store Too Good to Be Threw and crocheting his own shoelaces. Oggie also has honed an unusual talent: he nibbles off bits from cheese slices, forming the slices into recognizable shapes. He calls this chewing/carving talent "charving."
Donnica Perfecto, who is in Oggie's class, has one goal in life --- to be famous. Unfortunately, Donnica has no talents. She does have a posse of friends, though, who echo her snobby comments and finish her words for her. Donnica describes her feelings for Oggie this way: "EEEEW." And she doesn't hesitate to say it to his face.
One day, Donnica discovers a flyer on the school bulletin board that just may be her ticket to fame. It's an invitation from the popular TV show “Hidden Talents” for all kids with unusual talents to audition for the program. Donnica immediately takes the flyer, all the better to minimize the competition. But, alas, even Donnica must admit that her lack of talent of any kind is going to be a problem. Her spirits lift when she spies charving artist Oggie showing his dog an American cheese slice shaped exactly like Texas. All of a sudden, Donnica is Oggie's best friend as she persuades him to teach her to charve.
Good-natured Oggie is happy to instruct Donnica in his art form, especially after she says that she needs to perform for her friend's little sister's birthday party. But since Oggie is on his way to help his parents at Too Good to Be Threw, Donnica must accompany him to the thrift store. After much coaching from Oggie ("take small bites"), Donnica feels she is ready for Hollywood. She stays home from school in order to practice, puzzling her mother with her sudden appetite for cheese. Meanwhile, Oggie discovers that Donnica's story about the birthday party is a lie.
Donnica sneaks out of the house to attend the “Hidden Talents” audition. Everyone wonders where she has disappeared to, until Oggie discovers the crumpled invitation. He and Donnica's friends join Mrs. Perfecto as they head to the audition to find Donnica. They are unaware that they are about to set her plan spinning in a direction no one could have predicted.
OGGIE COODER is an enjoyable chapter book with lively, whimsical illustrations. The main character is delightful, and although Donnica Perfecto is a stock figure "mean girl," at least her friends learn and grow throughout the course of the story. Oggie's adventure delivers a message about staying true to oneself, but the lesson is never cheesy; it is as light-hearted and tasty as Oggie's charving lessons.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 15, 2009
- Publication Date: April 15, 2009
- Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
- ISBN-10: 0439927943
- ISBN-13: 9780439927949