Rummanah Aasi
 We live in a celebrity obsessed society. We love to see stars rise and put them on this huge pedestal, but once we see flaws that make a crack in their image we tend to turn immediately against them. We take a sick pleasure in watching their every move and we love to see them crash and burn. I admit to tuning into Access Hollywood or ET for the latest gossip whether it is the latest celebrity break-up (did you hear about Scarlett and Ryan?) or flipping through People magazine during my lunch break at work. I have no clue how this all started, but it is startling to see how for some kids want to be "famous" when they grow up. Young readers are given a small glimpse of celebrity life in Sarah Week's children book Oggie Cooder.

Description: Oggie never wanted to be a celebrity. He is always described by teachers to be quirky or "one of a kind" and his peers label him as the school weirdo. What they don't know about Oggie is that he is a talented charver (chews and carves) of cheese into various shapes. This rare talent of his has landed him in a spot of a television show. Now that Oggie gets a taste of fame, will he want his normal life back?

Review: I love quirky characters. There is just something about being eccentric and having idiosyncrasies that assures me that I'm not that strange. I think we all have quirks, whether or not we like to admit them is a different story. Oggie is a lovable and sweet character. He embraces his idiosyncrasies with pride and is completely oblivious to his peer's sarcasm and comments. He sees nothing wrong with his unique ability to charve cheese into any shapes nor with his vintage wardrobe and crotchet shoe laces. Of course he finds himself longing to be part of a sports team and have a large group of friends from time to time, but he doesn't dwell on this. In fact, he doesn't realize how much he is missing out until his neighbor, Dominca, the snotty, spoiled brat who is completely obsessed with being "famous" seeks his help for her own benefit. Initially, he naively thinks Dominca is reaching out to him in friendship, but then he slowly begins to realize her real motive. Unlike his peers, he doesn't dislike Dominca for her actions. He was simply doing her a favor. When he gets accidentally gets a spot on television, he has no clue what he is in for, but he keeps having uneasy feelings about the whole ordeal. Weeks does a pretty good job in showing how Oggie feels about being pressured and famous without being too preachy. For instance, Oggie comes to this realization before an adult can step in and tell him, which for young readers is important because it shows them that they are responsible for their own actions.
  Oggie Cooder is a delightful read that will appeal to kids and it easy to read for those who have graduated from chapter books. The chapters are very short and there are small illustrations throughout the book. I did, however, find Oggie's popularity from being avoided to being constantly surrounded by his classmates to be unsettling and unfortunately quite realistic, but I would like to think that Oggie would have gotten friends by just being his fun and sweet self, but I think this would provide a good discussion question for young readers.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for grades 3 to 6.

If you like this book try:  Oggie Cooder: Party animal by Sarah Weeks
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