So remember how last week I told you I was participating in the Battle of the Books at my kids' elementary school and kind of helping them with the program? Well I finished one book so far, and as I finish them, I'll post a mini review of sorts and maybe a few other things in case you want to read along with me with your 4th or 5th grader.
The Fourteenth Goldfish- Jennifer L. Holm
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?
Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?
Obviously, this is a book I would have read as a kid simply because the cover is pretty rad. The book itself isn't long at all, 193 pages, which some kids have already said, "Mrs. Strand.... it's almost 200 pages!!". I usually reply with an eye roll and follow it up with the pages are short. Chapters are VERY short and I managed to read this in just under two hours. Once you get into the story, it's hard to stop.
We start with Ellie talking about a goldfish experiment she once had and how she thought she must have a really special goldfish because hers never died. Obviously, her mother was just replacing the dead one for a live one all of the time, and that kind of stuck with Ellie. One day her mother comes home after an "incident" with her grandfather and arrives with an oddly dressed boy her age. Turns out, that's her grandfather- he discovered a serum that is essentially the fountain of youth and of course, nobody in his lab believes him. So from then on, Ellie is in charge of Grandpa Melvin, who attends school with her and creates a little havoc but also sparks an interest in science in Ellie who quickly discovers science is all around her. Everything in her life and environment is science, and she embarks on a mission to steal a jellyfish- crucial to Melvin's experiment.
It's a super fun book, the kids who have read it so far have really loved it. In order to get kids excited about the book, we watched the book trailer:
I also read an article from the New York Times about jellyfish possibly being a cure for aging, and discussed what the implications would be. What if people didn't age, didn't die? If your kids are interested in this book, have them watch the trailer and summarize the article for them- it's a fun thing to have in your head as you are reading. I'll have to tell you that this would be a fun Christmas gift for kids ages 10-13, anything older than that and it might not be exciting enough for them.
The next battle book I'm reading is The Witch From Blackbird Pond, which I confess I haven't started yet. Tonight! I'll start it tonight!