Monday, December 8, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Fourteenth Goldfish

Since I have two daughters that both love science, I was happy to find this entertaining and science-related story. I wasn’t sure I'd like a story about a grandfather transforming to the age of 13, but the characters hooked me and I ended up really enjoying this one!

Here’s the Amazon description:
Believe in the possible!

Believe in the possible . . . with this "warm, witty, and wise" 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.

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm, Random House, 2014

My Take:

I didn’t know what to expect from the title, but I soon got interested in finding out more about Ellie and her scientific grandpa. Their characters really drew me in and kept me reading. I also enjoyed the different subplots related to Ellie and her friends and family. This story encouraged me to think about bigger issues of life and death, how we treat older people in our society and the way time moves on. I especially liked the science connections and Ellie’s thoughts about them.

I loved the simplicity and strength of the writing in this book. I could hear Ellie’s voice in my head while I was reading! I also admired the way the author was able to blend in back story and plot information in a subtle way that didn’t interrupt the flow.

Opening Line:

“When I was in preschool, I had a teacher named Starlily.”


“Maybe this part of me—the science part—was there all along, like the seeds of an apple. I just needed someone to water it, help it grow.”

“As my grandfather drones on, I wonder: shouldn’t there be a “law of friendship” that if you’re friends with someone practically your whole life, you can’t just suddenly stop and change directions without the other person?”

“But I think what you wear on Halloween is important. It says something about you—who you are and what you want to be.”

Other Info:

As a child, Jennifer liked to read all the time – even when doing chores such as raking leaves (this definitely reminds me of my daughters).

She collaborates with her brother Matthew Holm on the Baby Mouse graphic novel series and the Squish graphic novel series.

Her other books include:

Turtle in Paradise
Penny from Heaven
The May Amelia series
The Boston Jane series
The Creek

For more, visit Jennifer L. Holm’s website at

Looking for more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books? Visit ShannonMessenger’s blog for a list of bloggers reviewing great books today! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).


  1. Great minds think alike! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one too. I liked your points about how this book talked about big issues like getting older. That struck me too.

  2. Funny that someone else spotlighted this book today. Sounds like a great read and an intriguing title.

  3. This sounds like a fascinating read! It's also nice to know the author breaks the gender stereotype and has a girl getting into science, too. :)

    Nice post!

  4. This really sounds like a unique story. Love the cover! Thanks for the review, Andrea.

  5. This sounds funny. Interesting, though, that she could immediately see such a resemblance between this boy and her grandpa. He must not have changed much!


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