Monday, March 30, 2015

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm is an adorable book for middle grade readers about an eleven-year-old girl named Ellie who suddenly becomes infatuated with science after spending more time with her grandfather, Melvin. The interesting thing is that her grandfather, who is a world famous scientist with two PhDs (and his own fan club in Finland), has made a great discovery- the cure for aging. This has given him the appearance of a fourteen-year-old boy and he has come to live with Ellie and her mother.

As Ellie gets to really know her grandfather, she also learns why science is so important to him and how interesting it actually can be. Melvin is shocked to discover that Ellie's science knowledge is so lacking.

"If this country spent half as much time on science education as cheering some idiot with a ball, you'd know who Jonas Salk is."

Except that she doesn't. She also doesn't know about Robert Oppenheimer, Marie Curie, Louis Pasture or Isaac Newton. As he teaches her about these scientists' great contributions to mankind, he explains why scientists are so important.

"Average people just give up at the obstacles we face every day. Scientists fail again and again and again. Sometimes for our whole lives. But we don't give up because we want to solve the puzzle."

And he also encourages her. He never doubts that she is capable of great things. He sees something special in her and she begins to see it as well.

"Do you think I'll ever win a Nobel?" I ask.
"Of course you will,'' he says without a second's hesitation.

This is why I love this book. It brings an excitement and fun to science for a young girl and then immediately tells her she can go out and discover something of her own. From the very first chapter all the way to the cute, funny ending, this book made me happy. It was smart and also easily accessible for upper- elementary age readers. I love that it encourages an interest in science, even for people who may not know how much they will love it. I can't wait for my kids to read this book and I hope you'll read it and share it as well.

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