8. Holm, Jennifer L . Turtle in Paradise. Random House, 2010. 191 pages. Tr. $18.95 ISBN 9780375836886
Brief Plot Description: During the Great Depression, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to live with her aunt Minnie in Key West, Florida because Turtle’s mother finds a job working as a housekeeper, but her boss does not like kids. The unexpected arrival of Turtle is not welcomed by her aunt and her cousins. Turtle has a hard time adjusting to her new life, but through her endeavor, she is accepted by a local group of boys, the Diaper Gang. She also meets her grandmother and finds buried pirate treasure. After Archie, her mother’s boyfriend, takes away Turtle’s part of the treasure and flees to Cuba, Turtle and her mother find their real paradise.
Genre(s)/Subject(s): Historical Fiction, Adventure, Changes and New Experiences, Extended families, moving
Reading Level: Ages 8-12
Awards: Newbery Honor (2011), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nomiee (2013), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2012)
Books Similar in Style, Content, Theme, or Characters: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, Leo and the Lesser Lion by Sandra Forrester, The Wonder of Charlie Anneby Kimberly Newton Fusco
Programming/Lesson Ideas: To better understand the historical background, children can read some nonfiction books about the Great Depression.
Personal Thoughts: The story is told from Turtle’s perspective, and readers can easily immerse themselves in Turtle’s world. Turtle is my favorite character because she is a strong, courageous, and independent girl. She grows up from her adventure in Key West, learning how to care about others and the true meaning of home and family bonds. Although she does not have a Hollywood ending through owning a fancy house, she has the best ending in that she is able to live with her extended family. This book is good for children who need to find a sense of belonging and home security.