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Book Club Kits: The Fourteenth Goldfish

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Jennifer L. Holm

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Book Summary

Believe in the possible . . . with this "warm, witty, and wise" New York Times bestselling novel from three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm. A perfect read about a child's relationship with her grandfather

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? 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.

"Warm, witty and wise"--The New York Times "Awesomely strange and startlingly true-to-life. It makes you wonder what's possible." -- Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me


Discussion Questions

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?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:


  • What did Ellie's grandfather find a cure for?


  • Is every scientific discovery good?


  • Why doesn’t Ellie want to live forever?


  • What would you like to find a cure for?
  • Would you like to live forever?
  • What might be the consequences of Melvin’s discovery?
  • How does Ellie learn to think like a scientist?
  • What do you think is strange about the new jellyfish from Billy? 
  • Think about your own grandfather. What would you ask him if you had the chance to meet him at the age of 14? What kind of child do you think he would be? Do you think your grandfather had the same kind of experiences as a young adult that you have now?

Craft Ideas

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:


*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!