The Fourteenth Goldfish

In YA Book Reviews on October 27, 2014 at 10:01 pm


by Jennifer L. Holm

Middle Grade Fantasy/©2015/195 pages (including Recommended Resources to Continue the Conversation)/Recommended for Middle Grades

Publisher’s Summary (Goodreads):

Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?

Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

My Thoughts:

I was hooked from the first page and could not put it down. The story and characters are engaging, compounded by the fact that this author knows how to end each chapter with just the cleverest of lines, so I had no choice but to just keep turning those pages. It is a relatively short book – less than 200 pages – but it packs a punch. The Fourteenth Goldfish is a very clever, humorous book that beautifully deals with the realities of life – dealing with the constant changes, aging, and mortality. The author has crafted a fantasy – a grandfather who has managed to become a teenager again and shows up on the doorstep of his daughter and grand-daughter – that not only entertains, but nudges you to think about some very deep questions. There is opportunity here for some very rich discussions. I also applaud the author for including the element of science in the story, sprinkling so many interesting facts throughout, and chronicling Ellie’s burgeoning  interest in science. All in all, this is just a great read, destined, I am sure, to be a contender for the next Newbery Award.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars


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