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?
Eleven-year-old Ellie has many unexpected changes since the start of middle school. Her mom is a high school drama teacher and her dad is an actor that travels. They both keep telling Ellie she needs to find a passion. Her best friend Brianna has found a new group with the volleyball team. Her babysitter suddenly quits one day and her scientist grandfather, Melvin, comes home with her mom looking like a 13 year old boy. Apparently, he thinks he has discovered the fountain of youth which he experimented on himself that turned him back into a teenage boy. At the current moment though, he is designated as Ellie's new babysitter after school. Unfortunately, he wants to break into his old laboratory with her help to retrieve his jellyfish T.melvinus, which was used to create a compound to reverse the aging process. Grandpa Melvin plans to change the world with this discovery and win the Noble prize but at what cost.........
This story would not only connect with a reader who is a science enthusiast but others may enjoy the humor and message as well. It has an unusual theme with several funny moments and leaves you thinking about the interesting topic of people never-aging. The short chapters move along quickly and smoothly while keeping its' reader engaged for the final outcome in the end. It is funny that even though grandpa Melvin now has a body of a 13 year old boy, he still dresses and acts like a 76 year old man . He wants a younger self but yet is he ready for the changes that come along with it? The characters of Ellie and her grandpa definitely learn from one another helping bridge the generation gap as well. Ellie also senses that what her parents want her to be, may not be what she is best at. When she opens her mind to science, she discovers that it is worth the try, finding herself wondering and thinking about the "what ifs". Ellie also connects with a new friend Raj and there are many character developments within the story for everyone. There are several references to real people who have made scientific impacts on our world such as; Marie Curie or Robert Oppenheimer offering many teaching moments throughout the book. I loved that the author encourages her readers to observe the world around us and find the scientist in themselves. Once the story got going it was simple, fast-paced and could be a good book report talk for a reluctant reader. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 10-12.~
Title: The Fourteenth Goldfish
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Pub. Date: August 2014, Random House for Young Readers
Hardcover, 195 pgs.