Fourteenth Goldfish
by Holm, Jennifer L.

Hating change and missing both her best friend and her dead goldfish, 11-year-old Ellie encounters a boy who strongly resembles her immortality-obsessed grandfather, in a story that introduces the work of famous historical scientists. By the three-time Newbery Honor-winning author of Turtle in Paradise.

JENNIFER L. HOLM&;s father was a pediatrician and she grew up listening to him talk about the wonder of antibiotics and how science could change the world. Today Jennifer is the New York Times bestselling author of three Newbery Honor books, as well as the co-creator of the Babymouse series (an Eisner Award Winner) and the Squish series, both of which she collaborates on with her brother, Matthew Holm. Find out more about her by visiting and look for her on Twitter at @jenniholm.

*Starred Review* It's a little strange for 11-year-old Ellie when her mother brings home a boy who looks to be about 13 but dresses like Ellie's grandfather. But it's a shocker when Ellie realizes that the kid is her grandfather, a scientist who has suddenly succeeded in reversing the aging process. Now sleeping in their den and newly enrolled in Ellie's middle school, Grandpa connives with her to sneak into his old lab and swipe what he needs to continue his research. Meanwhile, Ellie comes to admire the grandfather she has barely known, listens to his stories of famous scientists, and discovers her own passion for science. Written in a clean, crisp style, with lively dialogue and wit, this highly accessible novel will find a ready audience. The idea of an adult in a young teen's body may not be new, but Ellie's first-person narrative makes good use of the situation's comic potential, particularly in the fractious, role-reversed relationship between Mom and Grandpa. Along with the comedy, the story has a reflective side, too, as Ellie thinks through issues such as death and immortality and confronts Grandpa with the social consequences of his research. A great choice for book groups and class discussions as well as individual reading. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A three-time Newbery Honor-winning author, whose books have also ranked on the New York Times best-seller lists, Holm has a formidably sized fan base waiting for her next release. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

What would it be like if your grandfather turned up in your house as a 13-year-old boy?For sixth-grader Ellie, this leads to a recognition of the importance of the cycle of life and the discovery of her own passion for science. After her scientist grandfather finds a way to regain his youth, he’s denied access to his lab and must come to live with Ellie and her mother. Although he looks young, his intellect and attitudes haven’t changed. He still tells Ellie’s mother what to wear and when to come home, and he loathes middle school even more than Ellie does. There’s plenty of opportunity for humor in this fish-out-of-water story and also a lesson on the perils as well as the pluses of scientific discovery. Divorced parents, a goth friend and a longed-for cellphone birthday present are among the familiar details setting this story firmly in the present day, like Holm’s Year Told Through Stuff series, rather than in the past, like her three Newbery Honor–winning historical novels. The author demonstrates understanding of and sympathy for the awkwardness of those middle school years. But she also gets in a plug for the excitement of science, following it up with an author’s note and suggestions for further exploration, mostly on the Web.Appealing and thought-provoking, with an ending that suggests endless possibilities. (Science fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.


When I was in preschool, I had a teacher named Starlily. She wore rainbow tie-dyed dresses and was always bringing in cookies that were made with granola and flax and had no taste.

Starlily taught us to sit still at snack time, sneeze into our elbows, and not eat the Play-Doh (which most kids seemed to think was optional). Then one day, she sent all of us home with a goldfish. She got them at ten for a dollar at a pet store. She gave our parents a lecture before sending us off.

"The goldfish will teach your child about the cycle of life." She explained, "Goldfish don't last very long."

I took my goldfish home and named it Goldie like every other kid in the world who thought they were being original. But it turned out that Goldie was kind of original.

Because Goldie didn't die.

Even after all my classmates' fish had gone to the great fishbowl in the sky, Goldie was still alive. Still alive when I started kindergarten. Still alive in first grade. Still alive in second grade and third and fourth. Then finally, last year in fifth grade, I went into the kitchen one morning and saw my fish floating upside down in the bowl.

My mom groaned when I told her.

"He didn't last very long," she said.

"What are you talking about?" I asked. "He lasted seven years!"

She gave me a smile and said, "Ellie, that wasn't the original Goldie. The first fish only lasted two weeks. When he died, I bought another one and put him in the bowl. There've been a lot of fish over the years."

"What number was this one?"

"Unlucky thirteen," she said with a wry look.

"They were all unlucky," I pointed out.

We gave Goldie Thirteen a toilet-bowl funeral and I asked my mom if we could get a dog.

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