Review: The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm

The Third MushroomSource: Publisher – I received this for review purposes, all opinions are my own.
Publisher: Random House Kids
Series: The Medusa Cycle #1
Hardcover, 240 Pages
 Middle-Grade Contemporary/Sci-fi
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

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.

The Third Mushroom really surpassed my expectations. I had enjoyed The Fourteenth Goldfish, though I had a few issues with it, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the second installment. I am so pleased with how this one turned out!

This sequel carries on a little bit after the first book ends, and expounds on the themes previous brought forth. We see more focus on friendships and their changes, what it means to live life, what it means to be family, and the importance of experimenting (both in life & in science). I think one of the best things about this book was its focus on changes and relationships. Friendships evolve and shift over time and people change. I love that it goes over the beauty of keeping a friendship as it is, as I think there is sometimes a little too much focus on pairing up in YA. I’m glad that there are middle-grade novels that embrace the normal friendships and let kids know there isn’t a need to rush off and find a soul mate anytime soon. There are a few moments as well where the focus returns to what it means to live and as a result how to deal with death, and those somber moments were really appreciated. And of course there is the science! I love seeing a young girl super interested in the sciences and even willing to get her hands dirty if need be.

Ellie has really matured in this one after her first long-term encounter with Melvin, she’s more comfortable in her skin at middle school and more comfortable asking questions. Her friendship with her grandfather really works well in this one too. Melvin isn’t as prickly as he was previously though he still has his moments, there are plenty of moments where we learn more about his life outside of the laboratory. He softens a bit and actually becomes far more likable. I love that the lessons they both learn individually are shared between them and that they have such a wonderful desire to see the other one happy and successful.

Overall, I think that The Third Mushroom was a really cute book with some great themes & ideas. The science is always a delight and I enjoyed seeing our MC really step out of her comfort zone and try new things. I think if you or a young person you know enjoyed the first book, then this is definitely one to pick up!

4 stars

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1 Response to Review: The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm

  1. I didn’t care for The Fourteenth Goldfish. I wonder if I would like this one better. They sure do have great covers. 👍

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