Monday, August 27, 2018


THE THIRD MUSHROOM by Jennifer L. Holm (on sale September 4, 2018), Random House, 240 pages, for ages 8 to 12. Includes 17 pages of back matter, like the author's note about the discovery of penicillin, a list of recommended reading, and a gallery of scientists, which is fun because it reads as if Ellie wrote it.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Ellie’s grandpa Melvin is a world-renowned scientist . . . in the body of a fourteen-year-old boy. His feet stink, and he eats everything in the refrigerator–and Ellie is so happy to have him around. Grandpa may not exactly fit in at middle school, but he certainly keeps things interesting. When he and Ellie team up for the county science fair, no one realizes just how groundbreaking their experiment will be. The formula for eternal youth may be within their reach! And when Ellie’s cat, Jonas Salk, gets sick, the stakes become even higher. But is the key to eternal life really the key to happiness? Sometimes even the most careful experiments yield unexpected–and wonderful–results.

Why I recommend it: This breezy and hilarious sequel to THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH  is almost better than the first book. It's funny, of course, but there's more to it this time, with even a slyly age-appropriate hint of romance, er, two romances (I won't spoil anything for you, but they may not be what you expect!). And, besides, it's just plain fun. I read the review copy in one day and then had a whopping headache. But it was so worth it.  (And don't worry! The headache went away by the time I went to bed.) Sometimes you just need a book like this. The characters are perfect, the dialogue spot-on, and the premise fascinating. Put it all together and you have a rollicking MG novel which is a sheer delight to read.

Favorite line:  (from p. 5) Middle school is like jail: the food is terrible, you're forced to exercise, and it's the same boring routine every day.