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Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

It is 1935 and the Great Depression is in full swing.  Life is hard, especially for eleven-year-old Turtle and her mother, a live-in housekeeper.  They have no place of their own and are forced to room in the homes of their clients.  Unfortunately, her mother’s current employer, Mrs. Budnick, cannot abide children, so Turtle is sent to Key West, Florida to live with her aunt and boy cousins she has never met.  Things are certainly different in Key West.  It is hot, the food is strange but good, barefoot children run wild, and everyone has a nickname – even avocados are called alligator pears.  Her rag-tag cousins – Beans, Kermit, and Buddy – are members of the Diaper Gang (no girls allowed) providing babysitting services and a secret diaper rash formula to the weary moms of the neighborhood in exchange for candy because money is hard to come by.  Local fishermen heap the docks with turtles and sponges, and everyone is on the lookout for pirate treasure.  As the summer progresses Turtle adjusts to her new environment.  Her quick wit and no-nonsense approach endear her to the locals.  As she navigates this strange new world, and makes important discoveries about her family and herself, the hard outer shell she has spent a lifetime developing slowly reveals its softer side.  Packed with historical detail and memorable characters this award winning novel for middle grade readers based on the author’s own family history is sure to please.  So, if the chill of winter has you dreaming of sun and sand, join Turtle and the gang for a summer vacation you won’t soon forget. Check the library catalog.


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