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Turtle in Paradise

Cover of Turtle in Paradise

Turtle in Paradise

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In Jennifer L. Holm's New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor winning middle grade historical fiction novel, life isn't like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple

She's smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle's mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she's never met. Florida's like nothing Turtle's ever seen before though. It's hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what's happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she's spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart, Turtle in Paradise is an instant classic both boys and girls with love.
Includes an Author's Note with photographs and further background on the Great Depression, as well as additional resources and websites.
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews:
"Sweet, funny and superb."
Starred Review, Booklist:
"Just the right mixture of knowingness and hope . . . a hilarious blend of family drama seasoned with a dollop of adventure."
From the Hardcover edition.
In Jennifer L. Holm's New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor winning middle grade historical fiction novel, life isn't like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple

She's smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle's mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she's never met. Florida's like nothing Turtle's ever seen before though. It's hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what's happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she's spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart, Turtle in Paradise is an instant classic both boys and girls with love.
Includes an Author's Note with photographs and further background on the Great Depression, as well as additional resources and websites.
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews:
"Sweet, funny and superb."
Starred Review, Booklist:
"Just the right mixture of knowingness and hope . . . a hilarious blend of family drama seasoned with a dollop of adventure."
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • Reading Level:
    3 - 6

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book

    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.

    I stare out the window as Mr. Edgit's Ford Model A rumbles along the road, kicking up clouds of dust. It's so hot that the backs of my legs feel like melted gum, only stickier. We've been driving for days now; it feels like eternity. In front of us is a rusty pickup truck with a gang of dirty-looking kids in the back sandwiched between furniture—an iron bed, a rocking chair, battered pots—all tied up with little bits of fraying rope like a spiderweb. A girl my age is holding a baby that's got a pair of ladies' bloomers tied on its head to keep the sun out of its eyes. The boy sitting next to her has a gap between his two front teeth. Not that this stops him from blowing spitballs at us through a straw. We've been stuck behind this truckfor the last few miles, and our windshield is covered with wadded bits of wet newspaper.

    A spitball smacks the window and Mr. Edgit hammers the horn with the palm of his hand. The no-good boy just laughs and sticks out his tongue.

    "There oughta be a law. No wonder this country's going to the dogs," Mr. Edgit grumbles.

    Mr. Edgit ("You can call me Lyle") has a lot of opinions. He says folks in the Dust Bowl wouldn't be having so much trouble if they'd just move near some water. He says he doesn't think President Roosevelt will get us out of this Depression and that if you give someone money for not working why would they ever bother to get a job? But mostly Mr. Edgit talks about a new hair serum he's selling that's going to make him rich. It's called Hair Today, and he's a believer. He's used the product himself.

    "Can you see the new hair, Turtle?" he asks, pointing at his shiny bald head.

    I don't see anything. It must grow invisible hair.

    Maybe Archie should start selling hair serum. If his pal Mr. Edgit's anything to go by, most men would rather have hair than be smart. Archie's a traveling salesman. He's sold everything—brushes, gadgets, Bibles, you name it. Right now he's peddling encyclopedias.

    "I could sell a trap to a mouse," Archie likes to say, and it's the truth. Housewives can't resist him. I know Mama couldn't.

    It was last May, one day after my tenth birthday, when I opened the door of Mrs. Grant's house and saw Archie standing there. He had dark brown eyes and thick black hair brushed back with lemon pomade.

    "Well, hello there," Archie said to me, tipping his Panama hat. "Is the lady of the house at home?"

    "Which lady?" I asked. "The ugly one or the pretty one?"

    He laughed. "Why, ain't you a sweet little thing."

    "I'm not sweet," I said. "I slugged Ronald Caruthers when he tried to throw my cat in the well, and I'd do it again." Archie roared with laughter. "I'll bet you would! What's your name, princess?"

    "Turtle," I said.

    "Turtle, huh?" he mused, stroking his chin. "I can see why. Got a little snap to you, don't ya?"

    "Who's that you're talking to, Turtle?" my mother called, coming to the door.

    Archie smiled at Mama. "You must be the pretty lady."

    Mama put her hand over her heart. Otherwise it would have leaped right out of her chest. She fell so hard for Archie she left a dent in the floor.

    Mama's always falling in love, and the fellas she picks are like dandelions. One day they're there, bright as sunshine—charming Mama, buying me presents—and the next they're gone, scattered to the wind,...
About the Author-
  • Jennifer L. Holm's great-grandmother emigrated from the Bahamas to Key West in 1897. Jennifer is the author of two Newbery Honor books, Our Only May Amelia and Penny from Heaven. She is also the author of several other highly praised books, including Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf and the Babymouse graphic novel series, which she collaborates on with her brother, Matthew Holm. Jennifer lives in California with her husband and two children. You can visit her Web site at www.jenniferholm.com.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Becca Battoe narrates the story of 11-year-old Turtle, who is exiled to her mother's childhood home of Key West during the summer of 1935. There she discovers a whole new world of quirky relatives and island adventures. Surrounded by her boisterous male cousins, Turtle must use all of her wits and courage to make a place for herself and discover her family history. Battoe gives Turtle a smart, no-nonsense voice that perfectly mirrors the girl's spirited and candid personality. Battoe also deftly portrays each supporting character--from 4-year-old Buddy to the Cuban-born "Pork Chop"--with a unique and authentic voice. A delightfully adept performance. K.O. (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
    Burn to CD: 
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    Permitted
    Public performance: 
    Not permitted
    File-sharing: 
    Not permitted
    Peer-to-peer usage: 
    Not permitted
    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Turtle in Paradise
Turtle in Paradise
Jennifer L. Holm
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