So what happens when a 13-year-old boy shows up on your doorstep, arguing with your mom, who invites him in, and it turns out you’re related to this kid, only a much older version of him?
Eleven-year-old Ellie’s grandfather is the famous scientist Melvin Sagarsky (he has a fan club in Finland), who has invented an age-altering substance that he’s used on himself as his first human experiment. When he shows up on her mom’s doorstep, the younger version of Melvin is still the same self-absorbed, rule-spouting, science-focused grandfather who hasn’t visited often because he and his daughter are so different in temperament.
A 13-year-old boy can’t stay by himself, or drive, or buy groceries, or not go to school, so they are suddenly a family. Grandfather opens Ellie’s eyes to the cool aspects of science and the celebrity scientists and she discovers she likes science. Ellie starts noticing things around her in a different way and reading about the lives of the people who changed the world.
Will her grandfather be one of those people? Has he discovered a fountain of youth? Will he ever see eye-to-eye with Ellie’s drama teacher mother?
The Fourteenth Goldfish works on many levels, but I admire it because it’s so readable even while it’s posing big questions. The book is funny, has good pacing, and the characters — all of them, even Grandfather — are so likeable that you’ll close the book wondering what happens next.
The Fourteenth Goldfish
Jennifer L. Holm
Random House Books for Young Readers
August 26, 2014