Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Fourteenth Goldfish

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Jennifer L. Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish and it is all well-deserved. What a magical book.

Ellie's grandfather is a scientist who could be described as crazy. He admits that, "All scientists are a little bit mad." Grandpa Melvin has been searching for the fountain of youth, a cure for aging, and he thinks he's found it. Ellie has found a passion for science, but also realizes that every choice has consequences.

There is so much juicy material to dig into in this book. I envision great discussions of ethics, raised by Grandpa Melvin teaching Ellie about the Manhattan Project and by his own experiments. It reminded me of the quote from Jurassic Park, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." Powerful thoughts for middle grade readers, but ones they are capable of debating.

Working at the first Caribbean school to earn an eco-school Green Flag Certification, The Fourteenth Goldfish relates to our mission. Grandpa Melvin shares Salk's quote, "Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors." We live on a small island where the consequences of actions are very evident: so much plastic washes up on our beaches, the sun heats up the glass bottles that people litter and it causes fires, when we use too much water, we don't have enough for our needs. I want to read this book with our students and discuss how we can be good ancestors and how it is their responsibility as they grow.

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