Ten-year-old Zelly wants a dog and she’d do just about anything to getone. But when Grandpa concocts anunusual scheme to help her, Zelly wonders if this time he’s really gonecrazy. The plan? Take an old orange juice jug, attach a leashto it, and, presto – you have a dog. Apractice dog, that is. To show herparents how responsible she is, all Zelly has to do is feed her “dog” and walkit three times a day. Zelly has herdoubts but agrees to try it. But her“dog”, now named O.J., brings with it a big problem: what will the other kidsthink when they see her walking an orange juice jug? She contemplates giving up the whole idea until she meets Jeremy, her new neighbor. With his encouragement and support, Zelly comes to see the value offamily and of true friendship. EricaPerl captivates her readers while subtly weaving in those two messages. The focus is definitely on Zelly’soften-humorous attempts to care for O.J. Sprinkled throughout the story are Grandpa’s Yiddish words andphrases. Although these are oftenexplained by Zelly, there is also a glossary in the back that defines eachword. When Life Gives You O.J. isa delightful chapter book that early middle-grade girls are certain toenjoy. While there are no illustrations(except for the book cover), the writing is vivid and the images and sceneswell described. I highly recommend thisbook for any girl who wants a pet of her own.
Marcia Berneger is a retired teacher who lives with her husband and three crazy dogs. She taught both first and second grade, as well as special education. She currently teaches Torah school, in addition to her volunteer work in classrooms, libraries, and with various fundraisers. She lives in San Diego.