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How I Became a Writer and Oggie Learned to Drive Hardcover – April 15, 2002

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 6
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel; First Edition edition (April 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399233946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399233944
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,493,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

To distract his younger brother, Oggie, from the trauma of their parents' separation and imminent divorce, 11-year-old Archie starts inventing a story about the "Mysterious Mole People," an underground network of people who were "normal humans once" but developed thick fur and claws. They attempt to save civilization by sucking bad guys into the earth. While Archie creates exciting escapades in his mind, his own life takes an adventurous turn. First, he single-handedly thwarts a hold-up attempt at a convenience store; then a gang of hoodlums (who witness the robbery attempt) hire Archie to make some deliveries. Connections between the Mole-People story and Archie's entanglement with the gang seem sometimes forced and other times vague, and occasionally the logic in the "real" plot goes haywire (e.g.: Why doesn't Archie just recover Oggie's stolen wallet from the gang instead of running errands for them?). The magical meshing of fantasy and reality found in Lisle's previous novels (Afternoon of the Elves; The Lost Flower Children) is sadly absent here. The author clunkily makes a point of distinguishing fact from fiction, stressing how six-year-old Oggie enjoys imagining the Mole People's world without believing in it. "He knew the Mysterious Mole People weren't really there, living underground, slurping bad guys." Archie and his brother may be admired for their courage to "fight back," but ultimately they get lost in the tug-of-war between the story lines. Ages 9-12.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grades 4-6--Archie's life has become more difficult since he and his six-year-old brother, Oggie, have been switching between his parents' apartments. They call it going from Saturn to Jupiter, because their homes are so different that they might as well be on separate planets. The possibility of a new baby at Dad's disturbs the boys, as do their Mom's struggles to work and care for them. In addition, the neighborhood between the two homes is scary: a gang called the Night Riders threatens the boys' safety. Archie is a writer and uses his "mole people" adventures to help Oggie cope, and to process his own experiences. One day, on a mundane errand, the sixth grader experiences an inexplicable moment of bravery when he trips a thief and uses the hold-up gun to keep him there until the police arrive. The Night Riders decide they can use him and despite his innocence, Archie becomes involved in their crimes. It's a tribute to Lisle's powers as a writer that this frightening scenario never overpowers the real essence of the book, which is about how fiction and life are different and equally useful to one another. Such great truths are stated simply and shown in the action at the same time. In this fast-paced, adventure-filled title, readers may be surprised to find Archie's observations about life with divorced parents and helpful hints about writing stories as memorable as Oggie's chance to do some actual driving in the final scenes.
Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The foundation of Archie and Oggie's idyllic childhood has already crumbled because their dad's departure to an apartment with his new girlfriend results in their mom's move from their cozy house into a rough neighborhood. Their schedule ping-pongs them back and forth between the households. And now, Oggie has heard that Cindi the Girlfriend is pregnant. Furthermore, the boys dread any unnecessary communication between their parents, who are at each other's throats. Archie, who is an eleven year-old aspiring writer, works at keeping himself and six year-old Oggie sane by creating an alternative universe--the story of The Mysterious Mole People:

"The main thing about the Mysterious Mole People is that they were normal humans once. They lived in regular daylight, in ordinary houses, and held down honest jobs like racing stock cars or selling famous-name sports equipment.

"But they got fed up with the way things were, like how everybody kept getting robbed at gunpoint and forests kept getting chopped down. Many years ago, the Mole People went underground. They developed thick, furry hides and powerful claws, and built a whole secret kingdom down under the earth. From there, to this day, they wage their revenge..."

But the boys' real life, which has them becoming increasingly ensnared in the activities of the local gang, begins to become entangled with the world Archie has created.

The relationship between Archie and Oggie is absolutely endearing. Oggie is a little kid who is into cars the way other six year-olds obsess over dinosaurs. There's plenty of action including a good dose of cops-and-robbers stuff. HOW I BECAME A WRITER & OGGIE LEARNED TO DRIVE is a great read and read-aloud, especially for nine to twelve year-olds.
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A Kid's Review on April 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Dear Reader,

This book is a must read book for anyone. This book combines gangs with normal kids. Also normal problems, like the ones in the story, Oggie's wallet gets stolen by ? you will have to read and find out! Another problem in this story is Jupiter and Saturn or mom and dads house, yes there separated. Do they get back together ? you should the book.

The main characters are Oggie his older brother Archie, Raven, and last but not least the bad guy that every story has to have "catman"(not his really name). Dose anything happen between the characters ? you are going to have to read.

Don't forget the mysterious mole people. How they fit into the story will keep you puzzled till the end.

This story takes place mostly on Garden St. California. The name of this thrilling story is..................How I Became A Writer And Oggie Learned To Drive. This story is filled with 155 pages of excitement. I enjoyed this book and would read it again and still with excitement. I love this book and if you like surprising books you would too
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Format: Hardcover
Archie is 11, and his sensitive brother Oggie is 6. Their parents recently divorced and now they go back and forth between preoccupied Mom's house and hotheaded Dad's house. In their menacing new neighborhood they have to deal with mean kids and criminals, but Archie distracts Oggie as much as he can by telling him a fantastic story of the Mysterious Mole People, who live underground and mercilessly try to right the wrongs of the above-world.
Things turn even more scary when Archie tries to get Oggie's stolen wallet back from a neighborhood gang, but the brothers count on each other and have inventive ways of coping with their situations. This YA novel was dark for my tastes, but people do live this way and the two boys' ability to adjust and grow stronger will reassure and encourage a lot of kids.
Writers of all ages will enjoy Archie's perceptive observations on writing. Divorced parents should read it too, to learn how to keep their own concerns from blinding them to their children's needs.
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A Kid's Review on April 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
How I Became a Writer and Oggie Learned to Drive is by Janet Taylor Lisle, there is one hundred and fifty-pages. It is about Oggie and Archie who's parents are split up. Their mom's house is Jupiter and their Dad's house is Saturn. His dad has a girlfriend her name is Cyndi. Archie is writing a book and would tell Oggie a little more every night. Cyndi smokes and she has Archie pick up her cigarettes. One day at the store where Archie picks up cigarettes he stopped a thief. There was this one gang that asks him to join; he does it to get Oggie's wallet back, but almost gets arrested. This is a great book if you like fiction books this is the one for you.
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More About the Author

Janet Taylor Lisle was born in Englewood, NJ, and grew up in Farmington, CT, spending summers on the coast of Rhode Island, where both her maternal and paternal grandparents lived. The eldest and only daughter in a family of five children, she was educated at local schools, and at fifteen entered The Ethel Walker School, a girl's boarding school in Simsbury, CT.

After graduation from Smith College in 1969, with a degree in English, she joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America.) She lived and worked for the next several years in Atlanta, GA, organizing food-buying cooperatives in the city's public housing projects, and teaching in an early-child care center. She later enrolled in journalism courses at Georgia State University with the idea of writing about the poverty she had seen. This was the beginning of a newspaper reporting career that extended over the next ten years.

With the birth of her daughter, Lisle gradually turned from journalism to writing projects that could be accomplished at home. In 1984, THE DANCING CATS OF APPLESAP, her first novel, was published by Bradbury Press (Macmillan.) She has subsequently published fifteen other novels for children.

Lisle's books have received the Newbery Honor Award (for AFTERNOON OF THE ELVES, 1990), the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction (for THE ART OF KEEPING COOL, 2001), Holland's Zilverin Griffel (AFTERNOON OF THE ELVES, 1993), and Italy's Premio Andersen Award (HOW I BECAME A WRITER AND OGGIE LEARNED TO DRIVE, 2006) among other honors. Her book BLACK DUCK won the 2007 Rhode Island Book Award from ASTAL, and was an ALA Notable Children's Book.

For adults, Lisle has written a two volume history of the town of Little Compton: FIRST LIGHT, SAKONNET 1660-1820, (2010) and A HOME BY THE SEA 1820-1950 (2012)

She lives in Little Compton, Rhode Island, in a home by the sea.