Saturday, July 10, 2010
Title: Turtle in Paradise
Author: Jennifer Holm
Review Copy Provided by: Random House Books for Young Readers
About the Book: 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 Review: What a good little book! It took me about 2 hours to read it all because I wanted to know what happened. I love that it is based on real people, places, and events. Jennifer Holm does a great job with this story for 9-12 year olds.
I have to say, that I love Turtle! She is just so tough and sweet at the same time! How horrible, to be sent to live with your aunt because your mom's boss doesn't like kids. Probably didn't make her feel good, but she made the best of what could have been a real bad situation. Her aunt didn't know she was coming, her cousins don't want to share the house with a girl, and she misses her mom! But, she grows to love Key West and you will too after reading this.
Holm's descriptions of Key West are so vivid that you can almost see it, and feel as if you are there right alongside Turtle as she walks the streets with her cousins and the "Diaper Gang." What's great is that at the end of the story, Holm gives us actual photos of some of the people and places that are mentioned in the book, or the people or places that they were based on. I love having that to compare with my "mental movie" of the book! It really brings the book to life.
What was once her most prized possession, a pair of shoes, becomes something that's no longer needed at her new home. I felt like the shoes were a pivotal part of the book. Turtle holds on to those as if that will keep her from forgetting her past, or the future that she and her mom have planned with Archie. But, when Turtle loses one shoe, she seems to lose part of her hope that mom will come back. She is growing to like it in Key West and proceeds to become one of the barefoot neighborhood traipsing children. As a matter of fact, she realizes that Key West just might be the future she wasn't looking for.
Turtle learns a lot about herself in this book, and the author does a great job of letting the reader figure it out slowly. It is really fun to see how the story unfolds and everyone fits together. If you have children who love a good story and want to learn a little about the past in a place they may not know about, then pick this up for them. You might enjoy it as well!