The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Random House Books for Young Readers, August 26, 2014

Ellie’s headed to middle school and life is changing fast. Her best friend Brianna is completely wound up in volleyball team drama, her babysitter’s left for her dream job piercing ears at the mall, and a sulky teenager has moved in – and he just might be Ellie’s grandfather. What is he doing here? And why is he living in the body of a 13-year-old boy?

As Ellie and Melvin, her grandfather, try to straighten out the pieces of his upturned life, Melvin introduces Ellie to some of history’s great scientists: Salk, Curie, Oppenheimer, Newton, and Galileo and ignites in her a new-found interest in science. But as Ellie looks into the lives of the greats, she finds that even a sixth grader can have something important to teach scientists.

This funny and sweet story will appeal to middle grade readers. It’s full of interesting questions about life’s boundaries and life’s possibilities. Holm shows that she understands well the various levels of questions that preoccupy kids at this age, wardrobe woes, the cycle of life, and even ethics. There’s a lot of good information about actual scientists here, too. At times it felt a little teach-y but never enough to discourage reading, and I think that with the right reader the information about important scientists might just inspire further research. The Fourteenth Goldfish would be a great addition to classroom and library collections and a fabulous read aloud for classrooms. I can imagine all sorts of great classroom discussions as a result!

I read this book courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers as an advance reader copy (ARC) through NetGalley. The Fourteenth Goldfish comes out next Tuesday, August 26.

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