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The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

The Fourteenth Goldfish

by Jennifer Holm

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A gem of a story. While it could be considered science fiction, I think of it more as realistic fiction. Ellis is navigating middle school, with its evolving friendships. Ellie's grandfather has come to live with her and her mother. He has successfully tested his elixir of youth on himself and now has the body of a teenage boy. He is still his crotchedy self in this new body, however, having retained his grandfather brain. This accounts for much of the humor. The story is fast moving, promotes science and yet has thoughtful moments. At just under 200 pages, you can sneak a very good book into the hands of a reluctant reader. ( )
1 vote geraldinefm | Nov 23, 2014 |
Ellie's scientist grandfather has discovered a way to reverse aging, and consequently has turned into a teenager--which makes for complicated relationships when he moves in with Ellie and her mother, his daughter. ( )
  paula-childrenslib | Nov 17, 2014 |
I loved this middle grade book about dealing with change and the inevitability of change!

Ellie's life is undergoing changes that she isn't happy about. Her best friend is moving on to other friends. She has left fifth grade and is now in sixth attending a middle school. Her grandfather is now living with them as a teenager and she found out her goldfish hasn't lived for seven years. It has been replaced several times by a concerned mother.

There are many great lessons that can be taken away from this book. One is that change isn't a bad thing. Ellie's life didn't shatter when her best friend found new friends. Ellie learned that she can make new friends and her life can still be good and fun. She noticed people around her and realized that even though they may look different, each is unique and can offer good things to her life.

The goldfish analogy was perfect. She found the thirteenth goldfish belly up in her tank. She discovered it wasn't the original. The lesson she learned about the life cycle was wonderful. Life is meant for plants, people, animals, etc to grow and fulfill a role on Earth. To change the pattern doesn't make the world a better place. It adds uncertainty and opens up many scenarios that would not be helpful to the world as a whole.

I highly recommend this book not just to children, but to everyone who enjoys a good story. ( )
  Bookworm_Lisa | Nov 1, 2014 |
Ellie is entering sixth grade and things are changing. The most dramatic change is the fact that her scientist grandfather miraculously found a discovery to physically regress. He is now Ellie's age. Seeking shelter with his daughter (Ellie's mother), Ellie rides the school bus with her grandfather. And, Ellie's mother now becomes a mother figure to her father.

A Geek and proud of it, he never tries to fit in. When he is locked out of his laboratory, he seeks the aid of a classmate.

When Ellie was very young, she won a goldfish at the carnival. Believing that the Goldfish had thirteen lives because it never died, she had no idea that her parents simply replaced a living fish with the dead one.

Seeking an award for his incredible discovery, her grandfather is analogous to the fourteenth goldfish. It will live on, but there are consequences.

Examining the repercussions of things that can be done, but perhaps should not be accomplished, Ellie learns that life has a cycle and should be respected. ( )
  Whisper1 | Oct 28, 2014 |
Who or what was the fourteenth goldfish? Well, the first thirteen were goldfish, of course. But the fourteenth was the impossible made possible, at least in this story.

Ellie had just entered the sixth grade. Everything was different yet very much the same--a different building and some new students but with the same attitudes she'd left behind. She felt like a nobody. She still sat alone for lunch. Even her childhood best friend had drifted away when her interest was snagged by volleyball.

Then one day a new boy about Ellie's age came home with her mom. Lissa was the school drama teacher; Ellie was used to students coming home with her. But this was not a typical drama student. His name was Melvin and he looked strangely familiar. He wore clothes we would associate with a 70-year-old man. He talked to her mother as if he knew her well. He reminded Ellie of her grandfather, who lived close by but whom they didn't see often because he and her mom didn't see eye-to-eye on much. He was a scientist. Her mom was an artist. Suddenly life became very interesting. Melvin was her grandfather in a thirteen-year-old's body.

Perhaps because of her age, or maybe because of her grandfather's influence, Ellie began to see the world in a different way. Melvin was interesting to talk to. He taught her about science and history--how big changes came to the world through inventions and discoveries. But the learning was a two-way street. Marvin had gotten stuck in a rut. He wasn't thinking of the consequences of the experiment that allowed him to reverse aging. Frankly, he thought like a 76-year-old man. He needed fresh perspective, which is exactly what he got living with his daughter and granddaughter, forced to attend school with Ellie. Now, Ellie was a thinker, and she challenged him. In the end, all three learned valuable lessons from each other. Ahead of them, life was filled with possibilities.

The author writes this story from Ellie's perspective. The humor is quirky, and sure to be enjoyed by middle school readers who like the off-the-wall type of viewpoint. The chapters are short and simple. Some of the chapters seem pointless and don't move the story along very well, yet set the tone just the same. The reading level is low for a middle grade book so that I believe a younger good reader would enjoy it as well. There is no crude language in the book. Bullying is not an issue in this volume, and the student disparity is only lightly touched on. The book is written for entertainment purposes, not overly focused on the tough issues of life.

The author herself grew up in a home where science was a given. Both her parents were in the medical field. It wasn't unusual for the cottage cheese and a bacterial culture growing in a petri dish to be side by side in the refrigerator. It was natural for her to incorporate a love of science into her writing as she did in this book. The theme is not overly intrusive or pushy. The author just uses Ellie's natural curiosity and growing awareness of what the life of a scientist could be like to grow her character. It's good writing. This is a book I would love a young scientist-to-be to read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley, on behalf of Random House Books for Young Readers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” ( )
  Beverlylynnt | Oct 14, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375870644, Hardcover)

Believe in the possible . . . with this brilliantly quirky, thought-provoking novel from New York Times bestseller, three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm
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?
With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 22 Dec 2013 13:33:37 -0500)

Ellie's scientist grandfather has discovered a way to reverse aging, and consequently has turned into a teenager--which makes for complicated relationships when he moves in with Ellie and her mother, his daughter.

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