Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

Cover image for The fourteenth goldfish12-year-old Ellie lives with her mom who is a drama teacher.  Her dad is divorced from her mom, and is an actor.  Ellie, however doesn't have any interest in the stage.  One day her mother brings home a sulky teenage boy.  He seems familiar to Ellie, and she discovers he is her grandfather who is a scientist who has discovered a "fountain of youth" serum and tested it on himself.  He had been arrested trying to "break in" to his own lab and Ellie's mother had to take legal custody of him.  The rest of the book recounts Ellie's growing friendship with her grandfather, her discovery of her inner scientist, and their attempts, with the help of a new friend at school, to break into the grandfather's old lab and get the key ingredients to the youth serum.  Her grandfather hopes he can publish his findings and win the Nobel prize but as Ellie learns more about life and her family through interacting with her grandfather, she begins to wonder if the world is ready for perpetual youth. Ms Holm adds a lot of humor into her story.  The relationship of the grandfather with his daughter/now guardian is funny but also thought provoking.  The goldfish metaphor is a little heavy handed (you will have to read the book to know what I mean), but sometimes kids need things to be a little more obvious. Of course, this whole topic has been explored before.  I don't know if any book can compete with Tuck Everlasting on the topic of eternal youth. But you have to be pretty mature and philosophical to enjoy Tuck Everlasting, whereas this book, because of its more lighthearted treatment, is probably accessible to a wider range of audience. (195 p)

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