Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
From Miss Melia at Main
In 1935, money is tight and mothers do what they have to do to make ends meet. For Turtle’s mother, that means sending her child away to live with extended family in order to keep her job.
When Mama’s new housekeeping boss states that she hates children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent away to live with her aunt and aunt’s family in Key West, Florida. Turtle in Paradise follows Turtle’s new life in a very different place than she is accustomed to. Her mother told Turtle that Florida would be a wonderful place to stay because “it’s beautiful, the weather’s perfect, there’s fruit dripping from trees,” and Turtle would be able to live with other kids. Turtle isn’t sure about all this but is tough and decides to handle the move with poise, no matter how decrepit the houses are or how rotten the kids seem. Issues arise as soon as Turtle shows up at her aunt’s doorstep before her mother’s letter does, which was meant to explain that Turtle was on her way. Things only get crazier as everyone tries to adjust to Turtle’s arrival and her addition to the family.
From trying to make money and changing baby diapers to outsmarting everyone around her and not fitting in with the “conchs” (or locals), Turtle has many adventures to keep her occupied. A good amount of adventure and mystery permeate the story, especially from the mischief Turtle’s cousins bring to the story and the mystery that surrounds cranky old Nana Philly. As Turtle adjusts to her new life, she realizes that life is not always as it seems and people who love you are what make up a family.
The eccentric characters Turtle becomes acquainted with beautifully enrich the story. The fact that the story is set during the Great Depression also adds an enriched dynamic and makes Turtle in Paradise a great historical work of fiction. Little things such as icons of the 1930s that are mentioned through, including Shirley Temple and funny pages Krazy Kat and Little Orphan Annie, give the reader a great sense of life during the time period. Turtle in Paradise is a Newbery Honor Book, and it won Ms. Holm the School Library Journal Author Award, Young Adult Services Division.
Here is a Turtle in Paradise book trailer from Book Trailers for Readers!
More From the Web
- Check out a walking tour of Key West to go along with the book!
- For more on reading about the Great Depression, here is a Booknotes Study Guide from Random House.
- Here is a set of printable flash cards to go with Turtle in Paradise.
- Visit author Jennifer Holm’s website.
- If you like comic style novels, be sure to check out the popular series, Babymouse, by Ms. Holm and her brother Matthew!