Sunday, April 10, 2011

Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm (ages 9 - 12)

Imagine being sent away from home to live with an aunt you don't know. When you arrive at your aunt's house, it turns out she doesn't want another mouth to feed and your cousins are less than thrilled to share their rooms. It's a rough time and takes a kid with a hard shell to deal with it. This is just the situation that sets up one of my favorite books: Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm.

At Emerson School, we are so excited to have a visit from Jennifer Holm on Monday, April 11th. We can't wait! She's the author of the very popular Babymouse series, as well as wonderful historical fiction, including Turtle in Paradise and Trouble for May Amelia.
Turtle in ParadiseTurtle in Paradise
by Jennifer L. Holm
NY: Random House, 2010
ages 9 - 12
available on Amazon and at your local library
Eleven-year-old Turtle looks at life realistically, with a keen eye for humor in situations. She starts off her story declaring,
“Everyone thinks children are sweet as Necco Wafers, but I’ve lived long enough to know the truth: Kids are rotten. The only difference between grown-ups and kids is that grown-ups go to jail for murder. Kids get away with it.” (p.1)
It’s 1935, and everywhere she looks, Turtle knows that life is full of hard knocks. She knows her mom is lucky to get a job as a housekeeper, but Turtle is disappointed when her mom sends her to live with her aunt in Key West. But she has to swallow hard when she realizes that her mom’s letter never even reached her aunt, and now she’ll have to be spending her summer hanging out with her cousins. They won’t let her join the Diaper Gang, a bunch of boys who babysit neighborhood babies for exhausted mothers in exchange for candy.

Bay Area author Jennifer Holm blends wisecracking dialogue, family drama and a winning heroine in a way that will appeal to kids and families. Best of all, through all her hardships, Turtle gradually warms to her eccentric family and grows to discover the special nature of their home in Key West. Turtle in Paradise will appeal to a wide range of kids; when I read this to classes in the library, both girls and boys were laughing and loving it. It would make a great family read aloud for both boys and girls. While it's perfect for tweens, I do think that 2nd and 3rd graders would enjoy listening to it.

Jennifer Holm does a masterful job of creating a character with a voice that speaks right to you. I haven't tried the audiobook version, but this is a book that is wonderful to read aloud. I'm guessing the audiobook is great.

Take a look at the first two chapters and more through Google Books:

Jennifer Holm was inspired by her mother's stories of visiting Key West as a child.  Read more in an interview with Alice Pope after Holm was awarded the Golden Kite Award by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI). I found it very interesting that family stories inspired Jennifer Holm's stories about Turtle and May Amelia. The stories we tell our children plant seeds that grow in many ways.

For a wonderful idea of what the setting in Key West looks like now, check out this lovely literary tour at Help Readers Love Reading.

Jennifer Holm has received wonderful recognition for Turtle in Paradise, including:
If you enjoy Turtle in Paradise, I highly recommend other historical fiction by Jennifer Holm, especially Our Only May Amelia and Trouble for May Amelia. She creates strong characters who face difficult situations with humor, stubbornness and courage.

The review copy came from our home collection. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support!

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer Holm certainly has written some great books! I have several on my TBR list and look forward to reading them.