Because why not an angsty, teenage grandpa?

The Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer L. Holm (2014)

Opening line: “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.”

That same teacher who brought in the gross cookies also sent each of the kids home with a goldfish, with the expectation that it would be a great lesson in the cycle of life. But for Ellie, Goldie the Goldfish didn’t teach her a thing about death, because she lasted for 7 years. Or so Ellie’s mom made her believe. Turns out the fish that died when Ellie was in 5th grade was in fact the thirteenth goldfish swimming around in Goldie’s bowl.

So Ellie may have already been delayed at understanding the life cycle. Things don’t improve when a strange boy shows up one evening. A boy with long hair, a zitty face, and a bossy attitude. A boy who looks strangely like her Grandpa Melvin, a scientist who was always obsessed with finding immortality. Could he have finally done it?

After Grandpa Melvin, the teenager, moves in with Ellie and her mom, Ellie starts to see the world in a whole new way. Ellie, whose parents are deeply entrenched in the theater arts, has struggled to find her passion in life. But teenage Grandpa Melvin shows her that science can be fun, science can be exciting, and science is everywhere.

This short read took me less than a day to listen to as I was painting the bathroom. It’s quirky, often hilarious, and another plug for science for today’s middle-graders.

1.5 stars

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