Jewish Values: When Life Gives You O.J.

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198 p.
Well-written, funny and mighty clever, Erica Perl’s new book for middle grade readers is an excellent example of how seamlessly a modern Jewish family can be incorporated into what is really a mainstream depiction of small-town American life. After her grandmother’s death, 10-year-old Zelly Fried and her family move from Brooklyn to Burlington, Vermont and she feels a bit out of place. Zelly desperately wants a dog and her parents are against the idea. Her Yiddish-spouting grandfather comes up with a plan: pretend an old orange juice jug is a dog and show your parents how responsible you can be by taking it everywhere. The cute illustration of the dog on the cover is enough to attract any animal loving 3rd grader to this hilarious book. When Zelly eventually meets Jeremy, a more observant Jewish boy who has moved into the neighborhood, her struggles to feel secure about her own identity become more pronounced. The author states that she hopes readers will identify with Zelly, a kid who “wants to feel secure with her friends without losing her identity, to take pride in her cultural heritage, and to value what makes her family special.”
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