Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm
Nominee for 2013-2014 Iowa Children's Choice.
Book description from Amazon.com:
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.
My 25 cents:
Okay, first of all can you imagine waking up one day and your mother saying, "I have a new job, you need to go live with _______________"(some family members that you have never even met before?!!). This was not unusual in the times of the Depression as families had to do what they could when work came available. Something I found odd though is that the story never really tells why the main character is named Turtle, except for the small explanation more than 1/2 way through the book that "mama said I had a hard shell like a turtle...." Really?
I will say that given the summary on the back of the book, I wasn't sure the story was going to be very....exciting. I was happily wrong! Based during the depression, readers get an idea of how different things were during this difficult time and may find themselves asking themselves (as I did) "what would it be like to live like that"? Simple story about learning family is family and that's what matters!