The Third Mushroom

The Third Mushroom

by Jennifer L. Holm


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"Believe in the unexpected" with this hilarious, heartwarming, and much-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Fourteenth Goldfish!

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this follow-up to The Fourteenth Goldfish, seventh grader Ellie continues to experiment—socially and scientifically—in middle school. She unsuccessfully tests the dating waters with best friend Raj, a goth boy with blue-streaked hair, and rekindles a friendship with pal Brianna. Not unexpectedly, Ellie’s cantankerous but lovable scientist grandfather, Melvin, resurfaces—just in time for the county science fair (he’s a 77-year-old with dual PhDs living in a 14-year-old’s body after he reversed his aging process). Together, grandfather and granddaughter confront the limits of medical science, and a catastrophic pet accident sparks one of many discussions about the questions that scientific advances raise. Ellie learns that discovery, like overcoming her initial distaste for mushrooms on the third try, involves trials, observation, and risk. Holm delivers another thoughtful, gently humorous story. STEM-friendly back matter profiles the famous scientists that Ellie and Melvin discuss. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)

Kirkus Reviews

Some experiments don't work out as expected.In a satisfying sequel to The Fourteenth Goldfish (2014), seventh-grader Ellie chronicles a tentative attempt at romance, a science fair experiment with her grandfather (still in the body of a 14-year-old boy), and a new appreciation for mushrooms, a once-loathed food. She and Raj, current best friend and lunch partner, have an unsuccessful movie date. A new relationship status is not in the cards, but the unexpected consequences include the rekindling of an old friendship with Brianna—someone with shared memories—and a renewed understanding of Raj's important role as best friend. Short, readable chapters are filled with lively dialogue and gentle humor. In her first-person, present-tense narrative, Ellie describes Raj as "goth:" "he's got piercings and is dressed entirely in black….Even his thick hair is black…except for the long blue streak in front." Ellie's lack of race consciousness makes her presumably white. Her divorced parents and stepfather are shadows in this account, which focuses on her strong connection with her grandfather, who's growing and changing as well. Most unexpected in this lightly fantastic story is a tender account of the death of a beloved pet. An ongoing STEM connection is reinforced with a backmatter "gallery" of information and suggestions for further reading about the scientists mentioned.An appealing middle school friendship story that won't disappoint the author's many fans. (Fiction. 9-14)

From the Publisher

"Lively, funny, and thought-provoking... a must-read sequel." —Booklist

"Holm delivers another thoughtful, gently humorous story." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524719807
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 09/04/2018
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 465,194
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Mushroom War






Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but my parents have always been a little obsessed with my eating. They insist that I try everything on my plate. That I eat what they eat. No chicken tenders off the kids’ menu for me. If they have calamari or chicken livers, that’s what I have to eat, too.


And the truth is: I’m a pretty good eater. Growing up in the Bay Area, you get to try a lot of different kinds of cuisine. I’ve had Indian, Burmese, Mexican, Chinese, Peruvian, Vietnamese, you name it. I even like the raw-fish kind of sushi.


My parents agree that I’ve never been really picky except when it comes to one thing.




The first time I tried a mushroom I was in kindergarten. My parents are divorced, but they’ve always stayed good friends, and we have family dinner once a week.


We were at a favorite Italian restaurant and my mother had ordered a pasta dish for the table--ravioli. I loved pasta of all kinds, so I was happy.


Then I took a bite.


To my horror, instead of creamy cheese being in the cute pasta pocket, there were weird brown chunks. It tasted awful. Like dirt.


“What is this?” I asked my mom.


“Mushroom ravioli. Don’t you like it?”


I shook my head. I definitely did not like it.


My parents seemed a little disappointed.


The second time I tried a mushroom, it was at a Chinese restaurant. We’d gone to see a play and it was late and I was really hungry. My parents talked me into ordering a chicken-and-mushroom dish.


Try new things, they told me.


But this time the mushroom had a horrible texture: rubbery and slimy. What was the deal with mushrooms, anyway? Why were they so gross?


I didn’t starve (I ate the plain rice and fortune cookies), but I was annoyed. At the mushrooms. And at myself for trying them again.


Then and there I resolved never to eat a mushroom again.


That’s when the Mushroom War started.


Because my parents took it as a personal challenge that I didn’t like mushrooms. They started putting them in everything. They put mushrooms in stir-fry and lasagna and salad. I guess they figured I’d cave and eat them.


But there was no way I was making that mistake again.


Eventually, my parents gave up and I won the Mushroom War. They moved on to brussels sprouts, which didn’t deserve such a bad rap, in my opinion.


As the years went by, they would occasionally serve me something with mushrooms. And every single time, I picked them out and left them in a neat pile on the side of my plate.


At least no one could say I didn’t have good table manners.


















My mom and I like to watch courtroom dramas on TV. She says they’re great character studies. She loves the scenes with lawyers arguing, especially when they shout “Objection!” My mom’s a high school theater teacher, so she’s a fan of anything dramatic.


While the lawyers are interesting, my heart’s been with the criminals lately. Because I know just how they feel. Middle school is like jail: the food is terrible, you’re forced to exercise, and it’s the same boring routine every day. Mostly it’s the buildings that make you feel like a prisoner. There’s no color, no style, and everything smells like dirty socks.


The only exceptions are the science classrooms. They redid the labs over the summer, and now they look like the Hollywood version of a high-tech lab. But my science teacher, Mr. Ham, doesn’t look anything like a Hollywood scientist. He’s young and likes to wear loud, silly ties instead of a lab coat. This is the second year in a row I’ve had him, because he moved up a grade.


“We’ll be hosting the county science fair this spring,” he announces. “I’d encourage you all to enter. You’ll earn extra credit. It’s also fine if you want to buddy up with another student and enter as a team.”


Even though I’ve already got a good grade in class, I’m tempted because of my grandfather. I know he’d want me to enter: he’s a scientist.


I haven’t seen my grandpa Melvin in over a year. He’s been traveling across the country, visiting places by bus, on an extended vacation. I miss everything about him. His old-man fashion style of wearing black socks. How he always orders moo goo gai pan at Chinese restaurants and steals the packets of soy sauce. Most of all, I miss talking to him. He’s bossy and opinionated and thinks he’s smarter than everyone else because he has two PhDs.


And maybe he is.






When the last bell of the day rings, everyone rushes out of the classrooms like criminals being released.


I spot Raj waiting for me by my locker; he’s hard to miss. He’s tall and lean and towers over most other kids. But that’s not the only reason he stands out. Raj has the whole goth thing going on: he’s got piercings and is dressed entirely in black, right down to his weathered Doc Martens. Even his thick hair is black. Well, except for the long blue streak in the front. It’s striking and makes him look like a wizard.


“Hey,” I say.


“So, you decided not to go for it, huh?” he asks, studying my hair.


It was my idea in the first place. I wanted a change of some kind. To maybe stand out. Look a little different. My hair is pretty boring, so I thought I would dye it. My mom was all for it. She’s always dyeing her hair crazy colors and makes it look easy.


Still, I was nervous. It seemed like a big step.


Raj suggested I just get a streak in my hair. He said he’d do it, too. A buddy thing.


We endlessly debated colors. He liked the idea of red. I liked pink. We were both against green (it only looks good on leprechauns). Finally, we settled on blue.


But when I went to the hair salon this past weekend to get mine done, I panicked. What if it was a mistake? What if I looked terrible with a blue streak? Like a blue skunk?


In the end, I got my hair cut same as always (one inch) and no streak.


“I couldn’t do it,” I admit.


“That’s okay,” he says.


“You’re not mad?”


“Of course not.”


I feel better immediately. Raj wouldn’t lie.


Because he’s my best friend. I know his locker combination and he knows mine.


We didn’t start out being best friends. But over the last year, it just kind of happened. My mom says having a best friend is like learning to speak a foreign language. You stumble around for the right words, and then one day it clicks and you understand everything.


“I’ve got a chess meet next week,” Raj says. “I was wondering if you wanted to come? It’s here at the school.”


“Sure!” I say. I’ve never been to a chess match before.


He smiles. “Great. Well, I gotta roll. Chess club. Catch ya later.”


“Bye,” I say.


I watch as he disappears into the crowd.


Excerpted from "The Third Mushroom"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer L. Holm.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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