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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: 'The Fourteenth Goldfish'

The Fourteenth Goldfish
By Jennifer Holm
Middle grade contemporary fiction
August 2014
Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-0375870644

Ellie Cruz is not having the best 6th grade year. Middle school is no fun: “Middle school is like one of those highway restrooms in the middle of nowhere. It’s dirty and smelly and it’s crowded with strange people.” Her best friend plays volleyball and doesn’t have time for her. But that’s nothing compared to the night her mom brings home a teenage boy.

It’s her estranged grandfather. Melvin is a brilliant scientist who has found a way to turn himself back into a teenager. And boy is her mother mad. She treats him like a middle-schooler and he wants to ask her boyfriend about his intentions.

Ellie discovers she has more in common with her grandfather than she thought as her love of puzzles fits in with his idea that scientists never give up “because they believe in the possible. … That it’s possible to find a cure for polio. That it’s possible to sequence the human genome. That it’s possible to find a way to reverse aging.”

The fast-paced novel includes Ellie, her grandfather and their new friend Raj trying to break into her grandfather’s old lab. But the novel includes the ups and downs of science, too, like what happened after Oppenheimer and crew were successful in the Manhattan Project. And how one person can grow old gracefully while another finds out there are exciting new possibilities out there.

Holm’s father, a WWII navy vet who became a pediatrician, inspired the book with his love of science and curiosity. That influence resulted in a humorous, highly accessible novel that sneaks in ideas without being pedantic.

©2014 All Rights Reserved CompuServe Books Reviews and reprinted with permission

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