From School Library Journal
Grade 3–5—In 1935, jobs are hard to come by, and Turtle's mother is lucky to find work as a live-in housekeeper. When she learns that her employer can't stand children, she sends her 11-year-old daughter from New Jersey to Key West to live with relatives. Turtle discovers a startlingly different way of life amid boisterous cousins, Nana Philly, and buried treasure. This richly detailed novel was inspired by Holm's great-grandmother's stories. Readers who enjoy melodic, humorous tales of the past won't want to miss it.—Stephanie Malosh, Vernon Area Public Library, Lincolnshire, IL
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*Starred Review* Eleven-year-old Turtle is not one to suffer fools gladly. And she runs into a lot of fools, especially the no-goods her starry-eyed mother meets. So it's a tough little Turtle who arrives in Key West in June of 1935. She's been sent to Florida to stay with relatives because her mother's latest housekeeping job doesn't allow children. Unfortunately, Mama has neglected to tell Aunt Minnie she's coming, and Turtle gets the stink eye from cousins with monikers like Buddy and Beans. As Turtle soon learns, everything is different in Key West, from the fruit hanging on trees to the scorpions in nightgowns to the ways kids earn money. She can't be part of her cousins' Diaper Gang (no girls allowed), which takes care of fussy babies, but when she finds a treasure map, she hopes she'll be on Easy Street like Little Orphan Annie. Holm uses family stories as the basis for this tale, part romp, part steely-eyed look at the Depression era. Reminiscent of Addie in the movie Paper Moon, Turtle is just the right mixture of knowingness and hope; the plot is a hilarious blend of family dramas seasoned with a dollop of adventure. The many references to 1930s entertainments (Terry and the Pirates, Shirley Temple) will mostly go over kids' heads, but they'll get how much comics and movies meant to a population desperate for smiles. An author's note (with photos) shows Holm's family close-up. Grades 4-6. --Ilene Cooper