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The Fourteenth Goldfish

Last updated Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Date of Publication: 2014
ISBN: 0375870644
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2016

Synopsis: 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? With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility.

Note to readers:
•  Begin with chapter 4.
•  Summary up to chapter 4: Ellie is in 5th grade and lives with her mom. She recently lost her goldfish, Goldie, that she thought had lived for 7 years. Her mom tells her that it was actually the 13th Goldie. She had been replacing them when they had died over the years. One day her mom is late coming home because something came up with her grandfather, Melvin. He's a scientist. When her mom gets home she has a young boy with her. As the boy is talking Ellie feels that she knows him from somewhere, and she also recognizes a ring that he is wearing. Suddenly she realizes that it is her grandfather.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever had a goldfish?
•  Have you ever had a pet die? How did you feel?
•  What do you think is special about the 14th goldfish?


•  Exasperated- to make someone very angry or annoyed
•  Layman's terms- in words that someone who is not an expert can understand
•  Indignantly- very angry
•  Nobel Prize- a prize awarded to people for important work in literature, physics, chemistry, medicine, and economics and for helping to bring about peace in the world
•  Perils- danger
•  Regenerate- to grow again after being lost or damaged
•  Reverted- to go back or return to an earlier state or condition

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What did Ellie's grandfather find a cure for?
•  What kind of creature does Melvin use in the cure for aging?
•  What would you like to find a cure for?
•  What is your favorite experiment that you or your teacher have done?

Craft ideas:
•  Make Goldie the goldfish. Cut out a bag shape from a piece of construction paper. Also, cut out a goldfish from construction paper. Glue the fish in the middle of the bag cut out and have the kids decorate.
•  Make a T. melvinus (jellyfish). Cut a paper plate in half and decorate as the head of the jellyfish. Cut out strips of paper, yarn, cloth, whatever is available, for the tentacles and glue on. If no paper plate is available you can also just cut a half circle from construction paper. You can also use a paper bag.
•  See ideas or examples on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/readingtokids/november-2016-science-tech/

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!