Bite-Sized Reviews of Awesome Dog 5000, The Fourteenth Goldfish, The Third Mushroom, and A Boy Called Bat

August 30, 2019 Reviews 26

I’ve got four reviews for you today: one MG contemp and three MG science fiction books (or maybe one is fantasy? A superhero story with robots and … I’m just going with sci-fi). I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!


Bite-Sized Reviews of Awesome Dog 5000, The Fourteenth Goldfish, The Third Mushroom, and A Boy Called BatAwesome Dog 5000 by Justin Dean
Illustrator: Justin Dean
Series: Awesome Dog 5000 #1
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on July 2, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Pages: 208
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: MG (Some silly MG-level superhero violence)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

Heads up, DOG MAN lovers! Watch out, readers of BAD GUYS! Robotic dog AWESOME DOG 5000 is in the neighborhood and he's. . . well, he's awesome.

Marty, Ralph, and Skyler might make the ultimate secret combo when battling alien-slime ninjas in their favorite video game, but in real life they're just regular kids. That is, until the three best friends discover Awesome Dog 5000, a robotic dog with very real power-ups. Awesome Dog can "bark" a sonic boom, "walk" at speeds over three hundred miles per hour, and "fetch" with an atomic cannon. Life for Marty, Ralph, and Skyler just got a major turbo-boost!

Attention, readers! AWESOME DOG 5000 is a wild action-comedy told through a mix of text and black-and-white illustrations, with a mystery to solve at the end. Can you handle the awesomeness?

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This book is hilarious!! I literally laughed through pretty much the whole book. (My mom can attest to this, as she was sitting next to me when I read it. I kept stopping to read her funny quotes.) There were also cute little footnotes like this one:

Book safety disclaimer: This dangerous trick should only be attempted by professionally trained stunt babies.

I mean, if a book needs disclaimers like that, you have to know some amusing stuff is happening. There were a few of the typical fart jokes and butt jokes (those aren’t my favorite), but they were overwhelmed by the just pure funny stuff, so I give it a pass for that (and, honestly, the kids that this book is aimed at will love it all the more for them). The illustrations are also fantastic, and there’s a fun challenge at the end of the book involving the illustrations that I won’t describe (because it would actually be a spoiler). Basically, I loved this book! Obviously, it’s not one of those deep and meaningful stories that will stick with you forever (though actually, there is a bit of a moral at the end that’s added in quite nicely), but it’s pure and utter enjoyment, and for this “genre” (if you can call it that—I don’t know, middle-grade silly humor superhero adventure?), it’s perfection!

(I’m now handing it over to my son, who is super excited to read it after hearing just a few of the quotes.)

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of Awesome Dog 5000, The Fourteenth Goldfish, The Third Mushroom, and A Boy Called BatThe Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Illustrator: Tad Carpenter
Series: The Fourteenth Goldfish #1
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on August 26, 2014
Genres: Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Pages: 210
Source: Purchased
My content rating: MG (Nothing questionable at all that I can think of)
My rating:
4 Stars

Believe in the possible . . . with this brilliantly quirky, thought-provoking novel from New York Times bestseller, three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm
  Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer. Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?

  Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?   With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility.

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I didn’t read the blurb before I read this one (I bought it when I had enough Amazon credits to get it for $1 basically because I’d received the second book for review and thought, why not?). Anyway, I went in completely blind, and I was shocked to find that this wasn’t exactly the STEM contemporary I was expecting, but something along the lines of science fiction (or contemporary sci-fi? Is that a thing? It should be a thing). 

Ellie’s grandfather has discovered the key to immortality, utilizing the famed immortal jellyfish (a real thing, in case you haven’t heard of it—it’s a type of jellyfish that can basically revert back to its infant state and start life over again)—and he’s turned himself into a jellyfish. That’s really the extent of the “science fiction” to the book, though—the rest of it is just a contemporary about a girl trying to figure out how to navigate middle school and failing friendships (and a brilliant, opinionated grandpa who now attends her school). To me, the absolute best parts of this book were the ways the grandpa was a sort-of teenager/sort-of old man. This dichotomy was highly entertaining.

I did think the way the family responded to good old grandpa was a little weird—like, the mom basically actually treated him like a teenager instead of her dad a lot of the time, and I wasn’t sure why. And there were some definite lapses in logic. (How would she have signed him up for school with NO paperwork or parental permission? Why couldn’t they have just said he was being homeschooled?—but that would have ruined the premise of the book.) And a few other similar issues that bugged me. But I tried hard just to suspend disbelief and go with it. Once I did that, I found the book to be quirky and heartwarming and filled with fun science facts. Overall a fun and unique story!


Bite-Sized Reviews of Awesome Dog 5000, The Fourteenth Goldfish, The Third Mushroom, and A Boy Called BatThe Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm
Illustrator: Tad Carpenter
Series: The Fourteenth Goldfish #2
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on September 4, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Pages: 217
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: MG (Some minor romance with a first date)
My rating:
3.5 Stars

"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.

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This book was very similar to the first one, except that it was a bit more character-centric. The story really revolves around Ellie’s feelings as she considers dating her new best friend, reconnects with her old best friend, deals with the injury of her pet, and explores her own affinity for science. I felt like the characters had a bit less of a solid goal in this one, which made the plot a little slower and might put some kids off: In the first book, Ellie’s grandpa needed to get his hands on the immortal jellyfish so he could complete his research, but in this book the only real goal was to participate in a science fair (it does eventually get possibly tied in to something more important, but I don’t want to reveal how that turns out). I once again enjoyed the emphasis on science and inquiry, and Grandpa’s grumpy teenage antics are sometimes hilarious! I’d recommend this to kids who like contemporaries with a touch of science fiction.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of Awesome Dog 5000, The Fourteenth Goldfish, The Third Mushroom, and A Boy Called BatA Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Series: A Boy Called Bat #1
Published by Walden Pond Press on March 14, 2017
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Pages: 208
Narrator: Patrick Lawlor
Length: 2 hours and 27 minutes
Source: Library
My content rating: MG (Nothing questionable at all that I can think of)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

From acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold, A Boy Called Bat is the first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum.

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.
But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

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The wonderful thing about this book is that it’s told from the POV of a boy on the autism spectrum, but that’s not at all what the story’s about. Bat’s voice feels authentic—his black and white thinking, his sensory sensitivities, his inability to make steady eye contact—and because we’re seeing the world through his eyes, we can understand the way his mind works. His mom’s obvious love and concern for him are evident, and the sibling rivalry with his older sister seems realistic. In the end, it’s hard not to fall in love with this little boy who wants nothing more than to keep a baby skunk as a pet. The book is simple—probably ideal for younger MG readers—but enjoyable. We get a little bit of animal science since Bat learns about skunks and his mom is a vet. Basically, this book will make you feel all marshmallowy inside and give you the urge to give little kids lots of hugs. I definitely plan to read the rest of these.

I listened to the audiobook, and thought that Patrick Lawlor did a wonderful job with the narration. He captured Bat’s innocent spirit perfectly.


That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?

26 Responses to “Bite-Sized Reviews of Awesome Dog 5000, The Fourteenth Goldfish, The Third Mushroom, and A Boy Called Bat”

  1. Afoma @ afomaumesi.com/blog

    I LOVE A Boy Called BAT. I also listened to the audio as well and remember it vividly. I’ve heard such good things about The Fourteenth Goldfish — it’s practically a classic, haha. Great reviews, Nicole 🙂

  2. Danielle Hammelef

    I read all 3 BAT books and loved every one. The other two here are on my want to read list.

  3. Jen

    I’m adding Awesome Dog 5000 by Justin Dean to my kiddos tbr! They love books that make them laugh, Dog Man, Bad Guys etc, so it sounds like this will be a perfect fit for them! I hope your son enjoys it as much as you did! 🙂

    Jen recently posted: Monthly Wrap-Up – August

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