When Life Gives You O.J.

Erica S. Perl. Knopf, $15.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-375-85924-3
In this warm novel about family, friendship, and fitting in, 10-year-old Zelly and her family move from Brooklyn to Vermont to live with her recently widowed grandfather, Ace. An eccentric and vociferous retired judge who spouts Yiddish sayings and outlandish fish tales, Ace devises a plan for Zelly to prove to her parents that she's responsible enough to get a dog. He gives her a "practice dog"—an orange juice jug "named" O.J.—that she must care for as she would a real dog. After Zelly's insightful new friend Jeremy (the only other Jewish peer she's met) advises her to start a dog-walking business, she drags her ersatz pet along. Perl (Vintage Veronica) offers a refreshing take on the grandparent-grandchild rapport. Ace's bossiness and brashness irk Zelly (he may have this effect on readers, too, as his speech is unfortunately rendered in all caps for most of the novel), yet there is a poignant undercurrent of love between them, as well as shared grieving for Zelly's grandmother. The novel strikes an admirable balance of humor and pathos—at times in the same scene. Ages 8–12. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-375-89783-2
Library Binding - 198 pages - 978-0-375-95924-0
Compact Disc - 978-0-385-39324-9
Paperback - 198 pages - 978-0-375-85902-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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