When Life Gives You O.J. By Erica S. Perl. 4 CDs. 4:47 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 978-0-385-39326-3. $30.
Gr 4-6–Zelly Fried has problems. Her best friend is off at camp and hasn’t written. Her Jewish family has recently moved to Vermont after the death of her grandmother, Bubbles. Her grandfather, Ace, is now living with them. And she wants a dog, but her parents won’t let her have one. That’s a lot for a 10-year-old (almost 11) to put up with. Then Ace comes up with an idea—a “practice dog.” If Zelly can prove that she’s responsible with the surrogate, surely she can convince her parents she’s ready for the real thing. This explains why Zelly is dragging a plastic orange juice jug around town on a leash all summer. Is there humiliation involved? Of course. Will it be worth it? Who knows? Perl’s fabulous story (Knopf, 2011) receives first-class treatment in this audio version. Abigail Revasch is amazing as she creates different voices and styles for each character. Ace’s broad Jewish accent and his interfering, storytelling ways come across especially well here, as does the young but determined voice of Zelly. This delightful story will have listeners giggling, while rooting for Zelly’s ultimate pet success.–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA