Saturday, May 01, 2010

Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer Holm

It's June 1935 and Turtle is headed down south to Key West. She's being driven by her mother's latest boyfriend's friend who owes him a favour. Her mother's latest housekeeping gig doesn't allow children, and since it's the heart of the Great Depression there is no choice in the matter, so Turtle is being sent off to live with the relatives that she's never met.

Turtle has heard her mother's stories about growing up in paradise, but it seems that she was a little shaky on the details. When they finally find Turtle's people, the house is so small "you could probably sneeze from one side to the other." (p. 15) There's a barefoot boy on the porch named Beans and when his Mama comes through the door, it's clear that Turtle's mama's letter letting folks know that she was coming never showed up. Turtle's aunt is all on her own with her husband being up in the Northern Keys finding work, and she's got her hands full with 3 kids and an angry aging mother to deal with. But family is family and soon Turtle is finding herself at home on an island where she seems to be related to just about everyone.

Soon Turtle, Beans, Kermit, Buddy and Pork Chop are busy getting into all sorts of adventures. Mean old grannies, pirate booty, rum-runners, and cranky babies are all in Turtle's future. Throw in a hurricane and an old fashioned adventure filled with unforgettable characters is born.

Jennifer Holm has written a character driven story that is ripe for reading aloud. Turtle is a spitfire, and her cousins aren't to be left out of the spotlight either. I would love to read some more adventures about these conch folks. Turtle is one of those characters that readers won't want to let go of, and they will find their hearts alternately soaring and breaking for her.

Simply wonderful.


Anonymous said...

Awesome! I just saw this book a few days ago and thought it sounded like it might be good. I also like the time period it's set in. My students could learn a bit while they read it!

Stasia D said...

Jill...this has turned out to be one of my student's favs.