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Jennifer Holm's 'The Fourteenth Goldfish' captures tween angst with humor, heart

A little science, a little angst, a lot of fun in Jennifer Holm's new book.
A little science, a little angst, a lot of fun in Jennifer Holm's new book.
Jacket art copyright Tad Carpenter; graphic presentation by Mary Beth Magee

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm


Can goldfish, teenagers and scientists come together in a single book and make sense? They can in the capable hands of Jennifer Holm, and they do so in The Fourteenth Goldfish.

For 11-year-old Ellie the world sucks. Her flamboyant divorced parents are involved in the performing arts while she just wants to keep a low profile. Her best friend has found other interests and she’s been left behind. Her goldfish died.

As if all of these didn't give her enough stress, a boy about her age shows up claiming to be her scientist grandfather. Can a girl handle having her grandfather attend school with her? Can she make new friends in an uncertain world? For a girl who hates change, there’s far too much of it going on in her life.

Ellie must survive in this world gone crazy, at least long enough to help her grandfather through his crisis. He wants to recover his research in the field of anti-aging from the company where he once worked. Her adventures pit her against big corporate security, peer pressure, and well-meaning but slightly misguided parents. Along the way, she learns to appreciate differing points of view

Holm weaves the elements together in an entertaining story of adolescent angst, not-so-mature adults and the kinds of ramifications scientific advances can have. The book makes a great gift for any tween who thinks the problems he or she is experiencing are the worst problems in the world.

Besides the entertainment value, Goldfish provides a balanced view of the places of arts and sciences in the big scheme of things. Without taking sides in the discussion, Holm has given reasoned perspectives on each. Readers caught in a dilemma of arts versus sciences will see an example of arts and sciences coexisting. The narrative also reflects on issues of aging and immortality.

Jennifer Holm has earned the Newbery Honor Book award three times already, with Our Only May Amelia, Penny from Heaven and Turtle in Paradise. The Fourteenth Goldfish may very well bring her another. Share this book with any young reader in your sphere of influence. They will laugh and sigh, but they will enjoy The Fourteenth Goldfish.

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

Published by Random House Children's Books

Ages 8-12

ISBN: 978-0-375-87064-4

Ebook ISBN: 978-0-307-97436-5

Scheduled release date: August 26, 2014

Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy provided by the author or publisher with no restrictions as to content. All opinions are my own.

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