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Kid Konnection: Turtle in Paradise

July 24, 2010

In the midst of the depression, eleven-year old Turtle lives in Pennsylvania with her mother.  When her mother gets a job as a housekeeper with a woman who doesn’t allow children in her home, Turtle is shipped off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives.  At first, Key West is like culture shock for Turtle, plus she misses her mother something awful.  Turtle quickly adapts and finds a place for herself among the characters of Key West.  While visiting her new-found grandmother, Turtle makes a discovery that could possibly change her life, if things are handled right.

I was excited to read Turtle in Paradise because it was written by Newbery Honor recipient Jennifer L. Holm, and it has a fabulous cover.  I was expecting a light, beach read, but what I got was even better!   I found Turtle and the other characters of Key West to be delightful!  They were suffering because of the depression, but they didn’t feel sorry for themselves, instead they made the best of things.

One of the things I loved about this book is the fact that it’s historical fiction for middle grade readers.  I think they’ll find the time period and the setting fascinating – I know I did.  (I even learned a thing or two from this book.)  The author’s note made this aspect of the story even better.  In it, Jennifer explains that the story was inspired by her own family and she includes pictures of Key West in the 1930’s.

I also loved the characters in this book.  Turtle is fantastic and I think a lot of kids will be able to relate to her.  The characters of Key West, including Turtle’s grouchy grandmother are wonderful too – they help make the time and place come alive for the reader.   I appreciated the way Turtle grew and adapted and I think young readers can learn a lot from her.

If you have a middle grade reader in your life, you’ll want to get them a copy of Turtle in Paradise!

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

I won a copy of this book from Random House Kids on Twitter.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


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29 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2010 5:09 am

    I haven’t read any less historical fiction book for middle graders and this one sounds fascinating. I love this genre!

  2. Kaye permalink
    July 24, 2010 6:21 am

    The fact that pictures from the 30’s are included makes the book very appealing. Glad you enjoyed it so much. Have a great weekend and happy reading!

  3. July 24, 2010 7:26 am

    Thanks for the review. I’m always looking for a historical book to read to my 7th graders during silent/oral reading time. This looks like it will fit perfectly in my “Great Depression” unit. Thanks!

  4. July 24, 2010 7:26 am

    I want to read this one simply because the protagonist’s name is Turtle.

  5. July 24, 2010 7:47 am

    I have a niece who just turned 10 – AND she loves to read. I’ll tell her about Turtle in Paradise.

  6. July 24, 2010 7:53 am

    I couldn’t agree more! This was a delightful book. You would also love OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA!

  7. July 24, 2010 9:35 am

    I discovered Key West as a kid in the early 50s and it was a magical place. Kids are more open to people who are a little “different” so I met some real characters and really knew the town. Sometimes I think kids are overly protected now and they miss out on a lot that way.

  8. stacybuckeye permalink
    July 24, 2010 10:24 am

    I have someone I think this would be perfect for. I am trying to do some Christmas shopping so I only have to enjoy baby’s first Christmas insteads of running around like I usually do 😉

  9. July 24, 2010 10:41 am

    Great review!! Sounds like it might not be only for YA readers.
    CMash

  10. July 24, 2010 10:53 am

    Turtle is a great name. I don’t know why; I just like it. I also like the premise of the book. Thanks for the suggestion.

  11. July 24, 2010 11:10 am

    I love the girl’s name, Turtle. I like to read about Fla. also.

  12. July 24, 2010 11:17 am

    This sounds excellent. I love to hear about good middle grade historical fiction especially since that’s what helped turn me into the historical fiction lover I became! =)

  13. July 24, 2010 1:28 pm

    I LOVE the cover on this one!! sounds like a great book Kathy.

  14. July 24, 2010 1:30 pm

    This sounds like a great middle-grade read! I love it when real photos are included by the author.

  15. July 24, 2010 2:27 pm

    Middle schoolers NEED good reads like this one!

  16. July 24, 2010 2:30 pm

    Another great middle-grade reader? You are hitting 100% on these the last few weeks. I keep feeding the titles to my 11-year-old granddaughter. She and I are very grateful.

  17. July 24, 2010 3:48 pm

    Another one to order when I get back to school in September!

  18. July 24, 2010 6:00 pm

    It sounds yummy…you have to have been a teacher in another life…

  19. July 24, 2010 8:40 pm

    Ooh, this does sound great, perfect for my middle-schooler. Thanks for a terrific review, Kathy! 🙂

  20. July 24, 2010 9:56 pm

    I know two children (and one mom) who will enjoy this. So nice to have fun/interesting historical fiction for this level reader.

  21. July 24, 2010 10:52 pm

    I’ve never heard of this but it sounds really good. I like Honor books just as much as Newbery’s but I haven’t managed to read this author yet.

  22. July 25, 2010 10:12 am

    Oooh. THanks for reviewing this. I bet I’ll really like it (and I’m not a middle grade reader!).

  23. Kathleen permalink
    July 25, 2010 2:01 pm

    I’ve always wanted to read something set in Key West. I’ve heard so much about it and the cast of characters who live there. Even though I’m a bit out of the demographic for this book I think I would enjoy it as you have.

  24. July 26, 2010 8:51 am

    My daughter loves historical fiction and would probably love this book! I have spent some time in Key-West as well, and so this book would probably be interesting to me as well. Thanks for this great review, it sounds like a great book!

  25. July 26, 2010 3:16 pm

    This sounds like another one that’s good for adults as well as kids. I’ll have to keep my eye out for a copy.

  26. July 27, 2010 12:35 pm

    Sounds like one my daughter might enjoy. Thanks for the review.

  27. July 28, 2010 10:32 am

    I’ll definitely have to keep this in mind for The Girl, and I wouldn’t mind reading it myself. I was immediately drawn to the cover and am happy to see you enjoyed it.

  28. July 29, 2010 6:57 pm

    Oh. This sounds delightful.

    How awful would it be to have to ship your kid off? I hope I’m never faced with such a situation.

  29. August 4, 2010 8:13 pm

    What an interesting name for a character. I like the sound of the story too. If I could find a copy of this book, I would definitely read it. It’s on my radar now.

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