Oggie lives with his parents, who run a local resale shop and get most of Oggie's wacky clothes as well as household furnishings from their attempts to stock the store at garage sales. It's a tough business, especially when a pipe breaks and is going to set them back $10,000, so Oggie is always on the lookout for contests he can enter. He doesn't win a trip to Florida for naming a bagel (Raisin' the Roof is so much better than Sunshine!), but he thinks he might be able to win the local version of Hidden Talents by charving a selection of states. That is, until neighbor Donnica Perfecto talks him into teaching her to charve, so she upstages him. She doesn't have Oggie's talents, though, and he is victorious, even though he chooses not to go on to the next level.
In Oggie Cooder, Party Animal, Donnica's mother makes her invite Oggie to her pool party because Oggie's mother is helpful and is an influential part of the garden club that Ms. Perfecto wants to join. Donnica is not pleased and fears that Oggie will totally ruin her party, especially since her father has hired Bumbles the juggling bear instead of the local hot high school band, Cheddar Jam. (The books are set in Wisconsin.) Oggie also has to deal with a poetry project at school and has to write a haiku while trying desperately, with the help of his friend Amy, to memorize all of Donnica's rules for how he should and should not behave at the party. In typical Oggie fashion, however, he manages to save the day.
The great thing about middle grade fiction is that it is often about kids who DO things. In Oggie's case, it is mainly charving, but he also gets into all sorts of different activities. Donnica's party in particular speaks to the sort of difficult situation many kids find themselves in when trying to fit in.
Cheese fits right in with other timeless, humorous novels like Park's Skinny-bones, Dowell's Phineas McGuire and Paula Danziger's Matthew Martin series and delivers plenty of laughs. Just lock up the plastic wrapped, processed cheese slices if you buy this for your own children-- you might inadvertently start them on a new hobby!