Turtle in Paradise
By Jennifer L. Holm
Random House Childrens Books, 2010. 191 pages. Chapter book.
Turtle's mom has a new housekeeping job for an older woman who can't tolerate children. Jobs are scarce so the only solution is to send Turtle to stay with an Aunt and numerous other relatives that she has never met in the Florida Keys. Resilient and capable Turtle takes it in stride and is even pleasantly surprised to find a fairly comfortable place with boy-cousins Kermit, Beans, Buddy and their best friend Pork Chop. She knows that life is nothing like Hollywood portrays in their movies, Shirley Temple indeed! Turtle definitley feels more connected with Little Orphan Annie in the funny papers and wishes for a Daddy Warbucks to come and sweep her away to a life of riches. Living in Florida gives young Turtle many new experiences, yet she clings to her dreams and yearns for the perfect life with her somewhat fanciful mother.
Two-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer Holm has done it again! She shows us a particular moment in history perfectly through the eyes of a tough little girl. As I read Turtle in Paradise I was transported to Depression Era Key West, experiencing hurricanes, hunts for pirate treasure and diaper-changing right along with Turtle. I love how the author incorporates her family's history into her novels. It will be interesting to see if she will win yet another Newbery next year!