Third Mushroom

Third Mushroom

by Jennifer L. Holm

Hardcover(Signed Edition)

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"Believe in the unexpected" with this hilarious, heartwarming, and acclaimed 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375978302
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 11/23/2018
Edition description: Signed Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 59,938
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

JENNIFER L. HOLM is a New York Times bestselling author and three-time Newbery Honor recipient. She is a cocreator of the Babymouse series (an Eisner Award winner) and the Squish series, which she collaborates on with her brother Matthew Holm. Visit her online at

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.

Table of Contents

1 Mushroom War 1

2 Criminal 5

3 Goldilocks 15

4 Chicken Nuggets 25

5 Doodle 33

6 Genus and Species 43

7 Mice Are Nice 52

8 We Are the Herschels 59

9 Shakespeare 67

10 Accidental Mold 74

11 Games 84

12 Quiche 91

13 A Happening 99

14 Earthquake 107

15 Burgers and Malteds 116

16 Emergency! 124

17 Horror Movie 132

18 Real-life Zombies 139

19 Bad Dream 148

20 Anything 155

21 Time 163

22 The Tempest 167

23 Hypothesis of Us 175

24 Prizes 182

25 Interesting Result 190

26 Comet 198

27 Experiment 207

Author's Note 214

Recommended Resources for Continuing the Conversation 216

Mellie's Gallery of Scientists 218

Customer Reviews

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The Third Mushroom 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
ReadingwithErin More than 1 year ago
Science, Family, and Realistic Characters. Thank you to Penguin Kids for sending me a physical copy in exchange for my honest review. This was such a fun read, that was also packed full of educational tidbits that are much needed for everyone. Ellie is a middle schooler, who has a grandpa (Melvin) who is a scientist and likes to do experiments. Ones of his experiments made him physically look like a teenager again. A pretty cool thing to do, but it also means that now he has to go to school with Ellie and do other teenager things in order to not be suspicious. While Ellie enjoys this at times, it also makes things very difficult at other times, because Melvin is still her grandpa. Which puts a lot of the family in a weird position, because he knows so much, but they can't allow him to do certain things. He's also extremely messy and has the appetite of a teenage boy which is slowly making Ellie's mom a little annoyed. We also have Ellie just dealing with regular middle school stuff which was all dealt with in a very real way. Overall I absolutely loved this book. Ellie is a character that I truly loved, and she was such a real middle school girl. I also loved Melvin even if he was a bit much at times. The things he was feeling were very real, and I love how it showed the loss he felt because of things, while also giving him a life after. I also found it rather fascinating that even though he was a scientist he didn't know certain things until after the fact. It just goes to show that no matter how many degrees you have, that there is always more to learn. One of my favorite interactions with Ellie and Melvin was how he encouraged her to really do research about the science fair project that they ended up working on together, but to also keep her friendships going and make sure she was there for her best friend no matter what. There are so many good things in this book, and I think it will be a great read for any middle schooler who likes science but also wants realistic characters. As someone who hadn't read the first book, I was a little nervous to start this one. I am pleased to say that while I'm sure it builds on the first story, it is not a have to read before you start this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book its amazing ?... ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?... ?. ?. ?...... ?. ?... ?. ? ?
MountainChickenLady More than 1 year ago
This is the fun follow up to the first book in this series, the 14th Goldfish, although it is totally not necessary to have read the first one. Ellie’s grandfather got turned into a 14 year old boy, in the first book, and so that is where we pick up again. Set in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ellie takes after her grandfather in her interest in science. Her best friend is a chess geek, and she loves her cat. Typical middle school stuff, with a bit of science (magic like science), thrown in. There is a hint of romance, but only a hint, which is good. There is a great quote, that sort of sums up the feel of this book. I definitely believe in science, like my grandfather does. But a small part of me is curious about magic. Because cats. There has to be something magical involved with creating them. The fluffy tails, the way they snuggle into loaf shapes and sleep in the sun. Most of all the purring. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.