Aces Wild, Erica S. Perl

41ZMzOF3saLThis is a title from PJ Our Way, the pilot program for kids aged 9-11, run by PJ Library. I was given this title at a conference and it sat on my desk for almost a year before I started reading it. I’m not quite sure why this happened… I think it was buried under some paperwork and neglected and it was only when I was doing my annual clean up that I noticed it and took the time to actually pay it attention.

There is so much to love about this book – even if you don’t read the first in the series – When Life Gives you O.J. – although, I expect that once you read Aces Wild, you’ll be hooked and will have to read the back-story!

Meet Ace – Ace, the Grandpa, and Ace, the dog. Meet Zelly, short for Zelda, the new girl in town, struggling to find her space in the world of teenage girls, to balance her Jewishness with her need to be accepted and to deal with her interesting family – specifically Grandpa Ace.

Grandpa Ace was the stand-out character for me in this book. He speaks mostly in capital letters, English interspersed with large smatterings of Yiddish.

” I USED YIDDISH TO MAKE A POINT,” he announced. “TO A DOG, ENGLISH, YIDDISH – IT’S ALL THE SAME. IT’S GIBBERISH!”

He was a judge and his advice is filled with legal terminology and endless amounts of wit. He is filled with the kind of wit that only a Grandpa can have and he made me smile.

“Forget it,” I said. “Let’s go.”

“PUT YOURSELF IN HIS SHOES, KID.”

“He doesn’t have shoes. He’s a dog.”

“I GOT NEWS FOR YOU, KID. EVERYBODY HAS SHOES.” Ace stood, hitched his pants up over his belly, and led the way outside.

He is also recently widowed and he regularly makes trips to the golf-course where he feels he can commune with Grandma, AKA Bubbles.

Of course, the bulk of the obvious humour in this book comes from the fact that both Grandpa and the dog have the same name, and both appear to be equally untrainable –

“Ace-the-dog or Ace-the-grandpa?” asked my dad in a way that made it clear he was only half kidding.

and

“He’s Ace,” I said. “I’m Zelly. I’m the one who’s doing the class. It’s my dog.”

“Okay, what’s your puppy’s name?”

“Ace,” I said quietly.

“Sorry, I can’t hear you,” said Mrs Wright….

I sighed. “Ace,” I said, louder.

Mrs Wright looked confused. ” I thought you said he was Ace?” she said, pointing her pen at Ace.

“He is. They both are,” I told her. “It’s a long story,” I added.

I won’t destroy the story by revealing more as part of the beauty of this book is, in fact, the story itself. What I will say is that as far as young adult fiction goes, this book hits the mark for me. I think it will have huge appeal for a wide range of young readers and I can’t wait to try it out on my kids!

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