Word Spelunking

Aces Wild - Erica S. Perl Erica Perl's Aces Wild is certainly a wild middle-grade romp full of puppy fun, zany characters, and a heartwarming story. Aces Wild is a sequel/companion to WhenLife Gives You O.J., but I don't think one must read that book in order to enjoy this one (I haven't read the first book and was still able to understand everything that happens).In Aces Wild, young Zelly finds herself the owner of a new, rambunctious puppy named Ace. Ace is cute and fun, but difficult to train. When Zelly asks her parents for a sleepover, they tell her that she must first take Ace to doggy school and get him trained, then she can have her sleepover. But the other Ace in Zelly's life, her loud, widowed grandfather, doesn't make puppy Ace's training lessons easier, especially he when he starts to date the instructor. Zelly must figure out a way to control both the crazy Aces in her life if she ever wants that sleepover.Aces Wild is a quick, fun read that tackles some serious stuff in a really heartfelt and age appropriate way. Erica Perl has created some truly memorable characters and brought them to life with humor and heart.Zelly and puppy Ace's misadventures in doggy school will have readers laughing, but also rooting for this sweet pair. Perl takes a very relatable and common situation- a child taking on the responsibility of a pet- and created a very fun and entertaining story around it, while scattering very real and helpful lessons about pet responsibility throughout. And Zelly and Grandpa Ace's misadventures will leave readers thoughtful and moved. With widowed Ace and Zelly's frustrations with him, Perl has explored things such as grief, getting older, and life and death with sensitivity and in a way that younger readers will understand. I liked that, even though some serious real life stuff is explored, the tone is always quite light and never too heavy.I really enjoyed the quirky casts of characters in Aces Wild. Zelly is super likable and relatable, with two really great best friends. Grandpa Ace is unusually charming with his loud, honest demeanor. And of course, puppy Ace just steals the show with is super cuteness! I also loved how Zelly's Jewish heritage is celebrated and very present throughout the story.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Zelly's exciting adventures with the wild Aces in her life will keep young readers captivated from beginning to end. Aces Wild is full of laughs, heartwarming moments, and endearing characters just waiting to be loved.

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