“The Fourteenth Goldfish” by Jennifer L. Holm

The Plot In Five Sentences Or Less:  Eleven year old Ellie’s life and that of her mother is turned upside down when an eccentric 13 year old boy wanders into their home one evening.  He wears tweed jackets and polyester pants, grouses about the depreciation of their home, and has a keen interest in science.  Most shockingly, he claims to be Dr. Sargarsky, noted scientist and also Ellie’s grandfather.  Has her 76 year old scientist grandfather actually found a way to reverse the aging process?

My Take:  This was an enjoyable read, but I did not fall in love with the book.  I found the character of the grandfather too grouchy, arrogant, and self centered to conjure up much interest in following what happens to him.  To Holm’s credit, she does show different sides to him, most notably the pain that he feel regarding the loss of his wife.  Still, for those looking for a book on inter-generational connection or the driving power of science, this would be an excellent pick.  Ages 8+

One Interesting Note About the Author:  Jennifer L. Holm is a prolific children’s author, having written the famous Babymouse series as well as the recent graphic novel Sunny Side Up.

“The London Eye Mystery” by Siobhan Dowd

The Plot In Five Sentences Or Less:  Ted’s mind works a bit different than most people’s in that he’s great with numbers and facts, but not so adept at reading emotions.  When his cousin Salim comes to visit for a day, Ted and his sister Kat decide to take him on the London Eye, a giant ferris wheel on the southside of the Thames.  Ted and Kat watch Salim get on the ride and go to meet him at the return point, but Salim has somehow disappeared.  Will Ted and Kat be able to put their own unique minds together and solve the mystery and find Salim?

My Take:  I had seen this book on many short lists and had been wanting to read it for some time.  I was not disappointed.  Dowd does an excellent job of not only developing a mystery, but also of putting the reader into the mind of a person with high functioning autism.  I would recommend this to any child who is looking for a great mystery or is interested in learning more about what it’s like to live with Aspergers syndrome.  Ages 10+

One Interesting Note About The Author: Siobhan Dowd passed away too soon in 2007 at the young age of 47.  Prior to writing children’s books, she spent her life advocating for socially marginalized youth, including serving as the Deputy Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Oxfordshire.