The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm ★★☆☆☆ #BookReview #BookBlog


Primary Genre(s): Middle Grade, Fiction
Published: 26 Aug 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Page count: 208 (print)
My Format: Audiobook via Overdrive
Cover: Cute
Pacing: So-so
Ending: Meh
Would I recommend it: No
Commission Link: Buy The Fourteenth Goldfish

My rating: ★☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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?

My Thoughts
I really wanted to like this book. I’m so disappointed. Here are my pros and cons for The Fourteenth Goldfish:


  1. I love books that present STEM fields as viable options for kids and encourage them in any way to get interested in science (regardless if it ends up being a career field).
  2. I liked the vignettes about famous scientists in history.
  3. Per typical with middle grade books, we had to have a fart discussion. However, this time we learned about what causes farts (because SCIENCE! LOL!) so that was at least a little different.
  4. It was an interesting look at the ethics of certain scientific discoveries. The “even if we can do it, should we do it” conundrum. (See con #4)


  1. While I love books that discuss science, some of the interjections of “science” in this book felt forced. It wasn’t organic.
  2. I hated that they made Ellie seem like a moron. Ok, she may not have known who Jonas Salk was or even Oppenheimer… but acting like she didn’t know Galileo or Newton? That is some basic history, if not science, and surely she would have learned at least generally who they were by middle school. I really dislike books that make girls look dumb.
  3. The characters were flat. Grandpa as a teenager should have had me laughing! It didn’t.
  4. While the book touched on the ethics of certain scientific discoveries, I think the “lesson” there will be lost on most kids – and that isn’t because the kids can’t understand it. But instead because I don’t think the concept was presented thoroughly or in an interesting enough manner to intrigue kids to think about it enough.
  5. Overall the whole book felt like it was lost. It wasn’t a great adventure and no one seemed the least bit freaked out that grandpa was suddenly a teenager. Science was discussed but it was superficial and random at best and entire story lines fell flat or got left behind (i.e., Ellie and her best friend). Ultimately, nothing really happened in this book – there is no development, no climax. There was simply no story in my opinion.

I think the author tried to present a lot of great concepts in this book – scientific discovery, ethics, friendship, family life, careers, and more. But perhaps there were too many, because everything got jumbled up into a mess in my opinion. I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t think it was executed well.

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Fourteenth Goldfish. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Click here for a description of my rating scale.


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