Turtle in Paradise
by Jennifer Holm, published 2010
“I’m Turtle,” I say. “Turtle?” the boy, Beans, says, “What kind of name is that?” “At least I’m not named after something that gives you gas,” I say.
With a sassy young girl at the heart of this children’s book, you can’t help but be won over by her honesty and humor. Turtle is plucky, optimistic, and hates Shirley Temple! She narrates her life during the 1935 depression so vividly that we feel just how important a good attitude is for survival. And survive she does, using her wit and courage to adapt to a totally new environment.
Set in the Florida Keys, this children’s book is part historical fiction, and part family memoir, based on the author’s Great Grandmother’s experiences. There is a good mix of fact and fiction, though most of the book is clearly fiction. The boys in this children’s book are hilarious: they have a “Diaper Club” as they take squalling babies off the moms hands in exchange for candy! Their secrets of how to soothe the babies are quite accurate, and fun!
There are several peaks of drama towards the end which moves the book forward nicely. However, throughout the book, and particularly with the ending, the theme is clearly family and roots. I liked this is a quick read. This children’s book could be read aloud with an eight-year-old. It would be good to have an adult around to explain some of the historical references. Though they are clear enough, having an adult talk about Shirley Temple or paper dolls would be a fun conversation.