The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Source: eARC via Random House Children's | Netgalley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star :star
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed. A few people cried. Most people were silent."
-Oppenheimer (Loc 476 of ARC)
That's right, that's an Oppenheimer quote from a middle grade book. This isn't any old middle grade book about a girl and her goldfish (admit it, you kinda thought it was). It's a deeply moving story about a girl, Ellie and her grandfather Melvin. Melvin is a scientist who just made a groundbreaking discovery. He discovered the fountain of youth! He is now her grandfather trapped in a 13 year old's body. As you can imagine, hilarity ensues. But this isn't some comical joke of a novel.
First of all, the book is about science. Technical details, famous scientists name, and controversial issues were all discussed. Keep in mind, in case you're forgetting, this is a middle grade novel. I can't tell you how happy this made me. I mean, middle school was the setting, but Ellie was considering really great topics. For instance, the issue of scientific discovery. Oppenheimer's Manhattan Project (which I didn't learn about until High School, and Ellie is learning it in middle school because of her grandfather), created the atomic bomb. Was the world ready for it? What were the ramifications? How was his discovery received? Did the scientists eat burritos while discussing ideas?
The characters were hilarious. The majority of the humor came from Melvin, Ellie's grandfather-turned 13 year old, who also turns into her new babysitter. He wears her moms leggings because he hates doing laundry. He steals soy sauce packets from the Chinese restaurant (my grandfather does that with saltine crackers). Basically, he's laugh out loud funny. The book is a fast read, and I was instantly captivated by Ellie and her scientific mind. I loved how the author didn't dumb things down for the audience. In fact, she did the opposite. She encourages young readers to look up these famous scientists, and their discoveries! Marie Curie, Einstein, Galileo, Oppenheimer, and Stalk are some of the many that are listed and referenced in the book. Not to mention, at the end there's a wonderful "for further research" page for kids who want to quench what curiosity was piqued from reading the book.
So thank you Jennifer Holm! I will be recommended this to my nephew and niece, as well as my students I tutor. Those who like and those who don't like science, will find this a pleasurable and funny read. I wouldn't be surprised if this wins awards.
August 22, 2014
ARC Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm
(aka Dee) has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She loves many things: fantasy novels, young adult fiction, her cat, painting, and horror films from the 70s. Diamond is a grad student at UCLA. She's pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science.