Posted in Fiction, Middle School, Tween Reads

The Fourteenth Goldfish – family bonding through science!

fourteenth goldfishThe Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House Children’s, August 2014). $16.99, ISBN: 9780375870644

Recommended for ages 10-16

Eleven year-old Ellie isn’t a big fan of change – she only just found out that her goldfish, the one she thought lived to a ripe old age, was a series of 13 goldfish. Her mother didn’t have the heart to tell her otherwise. So when this awkward teenaged boy named Melvin shows up, claiming to be her grandfather – he certainly dresses the part – she’s thrown for a loop.

Grandpa Melvin has figured out the secret to reversing aging, and he can’t wait to release his results. Ellie finds herself reading more about science, and the men and women whose discoveries changed the world – but she also learns that there are consequences for every discovery, no matter how groundbreaking. Now, if her grandfather could just get out of detention, she could share her thoughts with him.

Jennifer L. Holm is best known for her Babymouse and Squish graphic novel series, which I love. The Fourteenth Goldfish just continues her winning streak. The book is fantastic. The pacing is perfect for middle-graders, and they won’t want to put it down. She’s given readers some memorable characters, most notably, the irascible Grandpa Melvin – the misunderstood genius, the cantankerous old man in a kid’s body; Holm takes what could have been an arrogant, annoying character, and gives him depth and pathos. Ellie’s relationship with her grandfather grows roots as she learns more about his life, and even though she (and, through narration, we readers) understands his motivations, finds a strength within herself to stand apart. It’s a great coming of age story on one level, and a sweet tale about family on another.

Make sure The Fourteenth Goldfish is on your bookshelves when it hits stores on August 26th. This is the back-to-school novel to read.



I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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