Friday, September 14, 2012

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

Turtle in Paradise
by Jennifer L. Holm
narrated by Becca Battoe
208 pages
Newberry Award Winner

Book Jacket Summary
Inspired by family stories, two-time Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Holm beautifully blends family lore with America's past in this charming gem of a novel, rich in historical detail, humor, and the unique flavors of Key West.

Life isn't like the movies, and eleven-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She's smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935, and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle's mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida, to stay with relatives she's never met.

Florida's like nothing Turtle has ever seen. It's hot and strange, full of wild green peeping out between houses, ragtag boy cousins, and secret treasure. Before she knows what's happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she has spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts

Living during the depression was hard and Turtle's life is no exception. She is sent away to her Aunt Minnie when her mother accepts a housekeeping job that will not allow children. Key West is very different from anywhere else that Turtle has lived, where avocados are called alligator pears, no one wears shoes, and people have the strangest nicknames. She must also get used to her three boy cousins, Beans, Kermit, and Buddy. Beans hates her from the start and resents her taking his room away, Kermit is nice, and Buddy is the baby of the family.
The boys run The Diaper Gang and take care of babies during the day for candy. Turtle follows them around and gets to know the people of Key West. There is even a cameo by Ernest Hemingway! Turtle grows fond of her family and even the mean grandmother who hates kids. The book really takes off when Turtle finds a pirate's treasure map! She and the Diaper Gang go off to search for treasure.
 Turtle in Paradise has great historical elements within its pages. Turtle talks about Shirley Temple, Terry and the Pirates, and Little Orphan Annie, things that tweens would not really know about now. Terry and the Pirates and Little Orphan Annie are comics from the 1930's that Turtle adores because they give her a sense of adventure in a time when many children were unable to have many toys or things to do. They would come up with ideas like The Diaper Gang as a way to earn candy or just to keep occupied.
This is a great historical fiction and it won the Newberry Award for 2010. It should make kids interested in what else happened in the depression and do some research on why Turtle hates Shirley Temple so much! Recommend this to anyone looking for a good book.

Book Pairings
A Month of Sundays by Ruth White
The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone  



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