Monica Hodges, August 12, 2012 (view all comments by Monica Hodges)
This is a great story for middle grade kids. The characters are compelling, and I loved reading about a different era and place from my own. This book is on the Washington State children's choice list, and it deserves to be on it!
Shelly Burns, July 10, 2010 (view all comments by Shelly Burns)
What a good little book! It took me about 2 hours to read it all because I wanted to know what happened. I love that it is based on real people, places, and events. Jennifer Holm does a great job with this story for 9-12 year olds.
I have to say, that I love Turtle! She is just so tough and sweet at the same time! How horrible, to be sent to live with your aunt because your mom's boss doesn't like kids. Probably didn't make her feel good, but she made the best of what could have been a real bad situation. Her aunt didn't know she was coming, her cousins don't want to share the house with a girl, and she misses her mom! But, she grows to love Key West and you will too after reading this.
Holm's descriptions of Key West are so vivid that you can almost see it, and feel as if you are there right alongside Turtle as she walks the streets with her cousins and the "Diaper Gang." What's great is that at the end of the story, Holm gives us actual photos of some of the people and places that are mentioned in the book, or the people or places that they were based on. I love having that to compare with my "mental movie" of the book! It really brings the book to life.
What was once her most prized possession, a pair of shoes, becomes something that's no longer needed at her new home. I felt like the shoes were a pivotal part of the book. Turtle holds on to those as if that will keep her from forgetting her past, or the future that she and her mom have planned with Archie. But, when Turtle loses one shoe, she seems to lose part of her hope that mom will come back. She is growing to like it in Key West and proceeds to become one of the barefoot neighborhood traipsing children. As a matter of fact, she realizes that Key West just might be the future she wasn't looking for.
Turtle learns a lot about herself in this book, and the author does a great job of letting the reader figure it out slowly. It is really fun to see how the story unfolds and everyone fits together. If you have children who love a good story and want to learn a little about the past in a place they may not know about, then pick this up for them. You might enjoy it as well!
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Random House Books for Young Readers -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Turtle, the witty 11-year-old narrator of this standout historical novel, is a straight shooter: 'Everyone thinks children are sweet as Necco Wafers, but I've lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten.' When her romantic and unrealistic mother, who's always falling in and out of love, gets a housekeeping job that won't allow children, she sends Turtle to her estranged family in Depression-era Key West. Though her mother hails Key West as paradise, Turtle initially think it's a dump ('Truth is, the place looks like a broken chair that's been left out in the sun to rot'). Two-time Newbery Honor author Holm again crafts a winning heroine who, despite her hardened exterior, gradually warms to her eccentric family members, including her unruly cousins and waspish grandmother (who Turtle thought was dead). Infused with period pop culture references, a strong sense of place, and the unique traditions and culture of Key West natives (aka 'Conchs'), this humorous adventure effectively portrays Turtle as caught between her mother's Hollywood-inspired dreams and the very real family and geography that offer a different kind of paradise. Ages 8 — 12." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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