Thursday, August 14, 2014
Book Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish
The Fourteenth Goldfish
By Jennifer L. Holm
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014
Reviewed from NetGalley
Audience: Grades 4 to 8
Expected Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Ellie's life is certainly different now that she is in 5th grade and attending middle school. Her best friend is only concerned about the volleyball team and Ellie is struggling to fit in without her. To make matters worse, her grandfather recently discovered a way to make himself decades younger, so now she is attending classes with her 76, going on 14,-year old grandfather, Melvin, in tow. Melvin is trying to figure out how he can break into his old lab to save this ground-breaking discovery, and trying to get along with his theatre-loving daughter, Ellie's mother, all while inspiring a love of science in Ellie. With the help of goth-boy Raj, this trio makes some breakthroughs, both scientifically and ethically, that will surprise and delight readers. A great book that mixes science and heart.
I really hope that I don't have to tell the Caudill committee that this book is excellent. They love Jennifer Holm, so I hope they pick up on this one all by themselves. In some ways, The Fourteenth Goldfish reminded me a lot of Frank Einstein. It uses real scientific facts in fiction as a way to get readers thinking more about the sciences, but it does it in a way that is fun, not too forced. Melvin regularly referenced other famous scientists like Sauk and Oppenheimer, and made their stories seem so interesting that I bet some readers at least Google them. Plus, the whole ethical debt about de-aging and the atomic bomb was very interesting. I love how Holm was able to question the ethics of science in a simple way.
But aside from the science, this is a book about growing pains. Ellie misses her friend, and she's excited to make a new friend in Raj. Ellie has great instincts about relationships, which she can relate back to science. And the adolescent Melvin is pretty funny, and I'm sure a few readers will wish that their own grandfathers could becomes teens for a day just to get the same experience.
This book is getting quite a bit of well-deserved buzz and I hope that all readers find it lives up to the hype.