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TURTLE IN PARADISE by Jennifer L. Holm Kirkus Star

TURTLE IN PARADISE

By Jennifer L. Holm

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: May 25th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-375-83688-6
Publisher: Random House

Eleven-year-old Turtle falls in with the Diaper Gang—her boy cousins Beans, Kermit and Buddy and their friends Ira and Pork Chop—when she is packed off to stay in her mother’s hometown of Key West because her housekeeper mother has a new job with a woman who doesn’t like kids. It’s 1935, and the enterprising boys offer baby care to exhausted mothers in exchange for candy because no one has any money to spare. Glimpses of Southern decay and charm add to the sense of otherness that Turtle finds in the heat, the occasional scorpion, the windfall fruit and the hint of Bahamian and Cuban roots. Her encounters with the cantankerous invalid grandmother she never knew and with Slow Poke, a sponge fisherman whose gray eyes match her own, hint at the importance of this homecoming. Turtle’s discovery of the charms of family is as valuable as the pirate treasure the children weather a hurricane to find. Holm’s voice for Turtle is winning and authentic—that of a practical, clear-eyed observer—and her nimble way with dialogue creates laugh-out-loud moments. Sweet, funny and superb. (Historical fiction. 9-13)