When Life Gives You O.J.


Zelda (Zelly) has recently moved with her family from Brooklyn to Vermont and his having a little trouble fitting in. When you have frizzy hair and glasses, it’s not easy. To make things crazier, they now live with Zelly’s grandfather, Ace, who talks loudly (think all capitals in the writing), collects and wears golf shoes, and uses odd, Yiddish phrases all of the time.

What Zelly wants more than anything is a dog. She wakes up one morning to a note and an empty, plastic gallon jug of orange juice. The note is from Ace and tells her to come see him – but to keep it a secret. Ace’s plan is for Zelly to use the jug as a pretend dog so that her parents will see that she is responsible enough to have a real dog. Great idea, huh? Zelly doesn’t think so.

Eventually, Zelly decides to give it a try. She takes O.J. for walks on a leash, feeds him, takes him to the park to “do his business”, and makes sure he has a place to sleep. She tries to keep this all a secret – wouldn’t want to add to her “weirdness” but, of course, people find out. Zelly just wants to belong and be normal. This is a wonderfully funny book about learning to accept yourself and your family as they are and how to find out who your true friends can be. Kids will love the story for its humor and, of course, for the loveable O.J.

Reviewed by Jennifer Altena, 4th Grade Teacher, Shoreline, WA USA


For many years of her young 10 years, Zelly Fried has tried to coax her parents into letting her have a dog. The answer was always No. “But everyone in Vermont, has a dog”   Zelly would repeatedly tell them. Zelly’s family moved from Brooklyn to Vermont to help with her aging grandfather, Ace, after her grandmother died.  Ace is comical and zany and Zelly and her brother Sam sometimes do not know quite how to take him. Ace tried to help out his granddaughter by coming up with a plan that might convince Zelly’s parents. But will Zelly follow through with this silly idea?  His idea was to have a practice dog.  What else would one do with an empty plastic orange juice jug?  Zelly would walk, feed and clean up after her “practice” dog. Would this crazy idea work? Or would Zelly give up and loose her battle.

This hilarious story will bring tears of laughter to the reader or the audience.  A great story showing the family bond through the generations as well as a heartwarming story about our four legged friends.

Recommended by: Deborah McLaughlin, Librarian Pennsylvania USA

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