Thursday, December 18

The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish
Jennifer L. Holm

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-0375870644
Publisher: Random House
Date of publication: August 26, 2014
Age: Grades 4 - 8
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Science Fiction

Themes: family, relationships, friendship, life & death, the Fountain of Youth

Eleven-year-old Ellie already has enough change to deal with now that she's going to middle school. But when a strange boy shows up at her house, she's in for a big surprise. He's cranky, has a penchant for polyester clothing, bosses people around him, and looks vaguely like Ellie's grandfather—a scientist obsessed with finding the cure for old age. Is this boy really Grandpa Melvin? Has he really discovered the source for eternal youth?

While the story of eternal youth can be far-fetched, Holm uses the idea to really focus in on the deeper aspects of life, death, and relationships—and what science has really accomplished in the world. Sure, there's no eternal youth, but there's vaccines, pasteurization, and the atomic bomb. She uses Grandpa Melvin, with the perfect does of humor and zeal for science, to emphasize these ideas.

Ellie is the best character in the book. She's facing the quintessential horrors of middle school: her best friend has new interests, her parents have certain expectations...and then there's the strange boy wearing all black and sporting several piercings. What does she want to do? How can she build her own identity? Well, maybe science is as cool as her grandpa claims. And so it begins! Holm captured her anxiety and success rather well.

Besides some jumps (I felt like the push at the climax came rather suddenly), the story is a good one, and I appreciate the girls-can-love-science-too undertone. I recommend it. Especially if you want to encourage an appreciation for science!

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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