Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Young-adult book review: 'The Thing About Jellyfish'



We turn again to Elizabeth Hanson, 11, of Des Moines, to recommend a book she has recently enjoyed.

Parent note: Her tastes run a little to the macabre, but Elizabeth says this book also has strong elements of friendship and scientific inquiry.


Book title: “The Thing About Jellyfish,” by Ali Benjamin, 2015

Genre: young-adult realistic fiction

What is this book about? It's about an outcast girl named Franny whose longtime friend died over the summer. Franny tries to prove she was stung by a jellyfish, as opposed to drowning, and tries to escape to Australia to meet an expert on the subject.

What is the age range for a reader of this book? I’d say a mature 9-year-old could read this, but preferably around 10 years old and up. 

What did you enjoy about this book? I loved the fact that it went back to the past to look at her childhood.

What did you learn from this book? I learned quite a lot about jellyfish. It actually does teach a lot of stuff.

What would you say to a parent who thought this book was too mature or too “dark” for their child to read? Honestly, if you think your child can handle that kind of stuff, then do it, but if you don't think so, you’re probably right. I found this in my teacher's (sixth-grade) class. 


Expert perspective: Commonsense Media calls it a “beautiful, grief-tinged, coming-of-age story” with “a lot of educational value on academic as well as emotional levels”; recommended for ages 10 and up.


About the Author

Julie Hanson