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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: TURTLE IN PARADISE
TURTLE IN PARADISE is a lively, Depression-era yarn about an eleven-year-old girl with a tough exterior named Turtle. She has never known her father. She has been forced to move again and again as her mother has struggled in a buyer's market to make the best of a series of horror-show, live-in housecleaning positions around the mid-Atlantic region. Mom's latest...
Published on May 23, 2010 by N. S.

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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for 8 and up
This book was ok, possibly almost good. But certainly NOT for 8 and up or the 3rd-5th grade group it's being marketed to, which is why I rated it so low. I read this with my 9-year-old and was not really impressed. Although it does do a nice job of showing what Key West must have been like all those years ago, there are pieces of the plot I would have rather not...
Published on July 2, 2012 by samfl


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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for 8 and up, July 2, 2012
This review is from: Turtle in Paradise (Paperback)
This book was ok, possibly almost good. But certainly NOT for 8 and up or the 3rd-5th grade group it's being marketed to, which is why I rated it so low. I read this with my 9-year-old and was not really impressed. Although it does do a nice job of showing what Key West must have been like all those years ago, there are pieces of the plot I would have rather not discussed with my daughter. Spoiler alert but good warning for parents - included in this book is the fact that the main character discovers that her mother got pregnant outside of marriage and then ran off when the guy wouldn't marry her right away, thereby becoming a disgrace to her mother for being an single mom. Can we just let children stay children until at least TEN! Kids that age don't fully understand where babies come from - but if you read this book, be ready to explain it! All through the book, you get to read all about how the mom is constantly dating this guy and that and how they all try and buy the kid's love along the way. Then at the end, she actually gets married - only to have that guy steal all their money and run off to Cuba without them! What a great bedtime story, right? Don't worry honey, our dad isn't going to steal all our money and run away. Now go to sleep......

If this book were marketed to 5th or 6th grade and up, it would be more appropriate. The conversations between the characters are often funny. If it were marketed for 11 and up, I'd probably have given it 3 or 4 stars.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: TURTLE IN PARADISE, May 23, 2010
By 
N. S. "Richie's Picks" (Sebastopol, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Turtle in Paradise (Hardcover)
TURTLE IN PARADISE is a lively, Depression-era yarn about an eleven-year-old girl with a tough exterior named Turtle. She has never known her father. She has been forced to move again and again as her mother has struggled in a buyer's market to make the best of a series of horror-show, live-in housecleaning positions around the mid-Atlantic region. Mom's latest employer -- this one in New Jersey -- can't stand children, and the times call for desperate measures, so Mom's latest boyfriend, Archie, has contracted with an acquaintance who is traveling in the right direction to deliver Turtle and her cat Smokey to Key West, Florida. Mom hails from Key West and Turtle heads down there to squeeze into a small house with her maternal aunt and three boy cousins, none of whom she has ever previously met (and without the letter Mom mailed to Aunt Minerva having ever arrived).

It seems like Turtle is related to half the neighborhood and, being that she is the spitting-image of her mom, every grownup she meets immediately wants to know whether she is related to Sadiebelle Gifford. The question we immediately ask ourselves is whether one of the guys in town can be the father Turtle has never met.

We come to find out that the grandmother who Mom told Turtle was dead is actually very much alive, and quite an ornery character, although she is now incapacitated by a stroke. And then, thanks to Smokey, Turtle finds a long-lost treasure map...

What I really enjoyed is that Jenni Holm --who was inspired by old family stories about Key West -- keeps throwing you off balance by permitting you to discover clues. And so you think you've figured something out -- and you have -- but what you thought was the big mystery is only another step along the path. More surprises are coming your way...

You're gonna find yourself up to your ears in scorpions and smugglers, boys and baby powder, treasure and trouble...as Turtle comes to learn what home is really all about.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1935 Key West...Paradise? Not for Turtle!, May 5, 2010
This review is from: Turtle in Paradise (Hardcover)
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Eleven year old Turtle doesn't like kids 'cause they are nothing like Shirley Temple (and Turtle doesn't like HER either). See, Turtle's had some bad experiences with the children of her mother's various employers. No kid is nice to the housekeeper's kid.

When Mama's new employer Mrs. Budnick shares Turtle's low opinion of children and refuses to let Turtle stay in her house, Mama sends Turtle to Key West and the home of an aunt and far too many boy cousins none of whom Turtle's ever met. New environment, new culture, new family, new rules.

Her eleven-year-old cousin Beans (everyone has a nickname, so Turtle fits in THAT way) runs the Diaper Gang, a babysitting service with a secret weapon against diaper rash & they have a rule: no girls allowed. Turtle usually tags along anyway because despite the colorful locals (including a very familiar mustached author) there isn't much to do on the island.

Her mother may have Hollywood dreams, but turtle is down to earth. She views life as more like the story of the three little pigs: you just set up a new house & a big bad wolf comes to blow it down (Mama's not the best at picking men)...but Archie could be different...but the two of them are up in New Jersey--while Turtle's stuck in the mud and the heat.

Holm again mixes her family's history with a well told story (much like she did in "Penny from Heaven" in 2006). This one has all the local color you could want and rum runners and pirates and a heroine who's just the right mix of snarky and charming. A winner for fans of Holm or historical fiction.

(And now full disclosure: I read most of this while walking on my treadmill right next to a framed manuscript page from "Penny from Heaven." I have met Jenny Holm & she's just about the nicest person you'd ever want to meet...so I may not be entirely unbiased. However, I have never been a fan of historical fiction & I really did not want to put this down. Holm & Cushman are the only ones who do that to me consistently!)

PS to the publisher: this cover has nothing to do with the book--it's very misleading!
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good., September 27, 2010
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This review is from: Turtle in Paradise (Hardcover)
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The Depression-era Florida Keys setting and the believable, thoroughly likeable main character make for an enjoyable read. The problem is that the author spends the first two-thirds of the book developing these two elements of her story with a gently-paced, day-to-day style plot, then throws in a whirlwind of major plot twists in the last 50 pages. It felt a little off-balance. I liked the setting and characters so much that I wanted these new plot developments to be explored a little more fully, but it almost felt like the author had reached her page limit so she just had to wrap it up. So it's not a perfect book, but it's not a waste of time, either. Read it and see what you think!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not the funny papers, July 7, 2010
This review is from: Turtle in Paradise (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Times are tough in Depression-Era America. Eleven-year-old Turtle's Mom keeps losing housekeeper jobs and getting her heart broken by no-good men. When her Mom gets a job with an old lady who doesn't like children, she has no other choice but to send her daughter Turtle home to Key West to live with her sister, Minerva. Turtle really isn't sure how her Mom is going to survive since she's the sensible one of the two of them, but hard times call for desperate measures.

Turtle arrives with her cat, Smokey, only to discover she's going to be living in a house with boys, a dog, and nobody wears shoes on the island. At least, she's not the only one to have a nickname, there's Beans, Too Bad, Slow Poke and others.

She rides along with the Diaper Gang, a bunch of boys who babysit for candy, and learns the secret family formula for diaper rash.

While in the Conch Republic, she learns about alligator pears (avocadoes), rum running, sponge fishing and most importantly, that she still has a Grandma. Prior to this, her Mom had told Turtle that her Grandma was dead. Oddly, the hard-shelled Turtle is one of the few people that Nana Philly actually likes. She also meets Key West's most famous denizen and advises him he should be writing for the funny papers.

"Turtle in Paradise" is a great historical Young Adult novel that readers of all ages will enjoy. The story's got more than one good line per page and will keep you reading all night.

Rebecca Kyle, July 2010
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming read about a little girl trying to adjust in a new environment, April 29, 2010
This review is from: Turtle in Paradise (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a charming story about Turtle, a little girl who gets shipped off to live with her aunt and cousins she's never met down in Key West in the 1930's. Turtle worries about her single mother, who constantly falls in love with one guy after another, although she believes her mom has found the right guy this time. She had to go live with the relatives because the old woman her mother keeps house for didn't want Turtle and her cat around.

Turtle is thrust into this new environment and has to try to learn to cope with her cousins, all rambuncious boys, their friends and life in general in Key West. Some of the boys have a club they call the "Diaper Gang," a group of boys who take babies for walks and receive payment in candy. As Turtle adjusts to life in Key West, she realizes there are some things she didn't know about her mom, who left the area before she was born. And being Key West, pirate treasure stories abound in the area and the kids even have a little adventure trying to find some hidden treasure. There are some historical bits and pieces thrown into the story for good measure too.

All in all, I found this to be an entertaining read. I think this book is an appropriate read for young girls and boys, as there is no bad language or adult themes. I recommend it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curl Up With This Slice of Paradise!, August 11, 2010
By 
M. Lee (Long Beach, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Turtle in Paradise (Hardcover)
As a mother who screens everything her 11-year-old daughter reads, I knew "Turtle in Paradise" by Jennifer L. Holm was a keeper the minute I laid eyes on the cover. Sure enough, I was unable to put to put the book down once I started reading it, and I couldn't wait to get it to said daughter and see how *she* was unable to put it down as well! As said daughter is also a fan of the "American Girl Historical Mysteries" (Kit, in this case) and "The Postcard" by Tony Abbott, there were already other books from which we could draw comparisons, and "Turtle in Paradise" held its own with little effort. I especially appreciated the non-traditional happy ending, and welcomed the chance to discuss the issue of how the choices made by the adults around us will have consequences on the children. Loved how Hemingway is featured in the story as well! Below is how said daughter enjoyed the book:

"It is 1935 and 11-year- old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. When Turtle's Mom gets a job with a boss who detests kids, Turtle is sent to stay with her aunt and the Diaper Gang in Key West, Florida. There, Turtle comes out of her shell as she finds her dad, grandmother (who also dislikes Shirley Temple), pirate treasure and true friends.

"I thought the book was very surprising and funny, especially when I found out that the special baby formula was what my mother always used on me when I was little, and it *always* worked, instantly. I also laughed when, as the boys were tick-tocking people, one lady thought it was the ghost of a widow whose sailor husband drowned at sea and was trying to communicate with her! Also, I thought it was romantic how Turtle's dad named his boat in memory of her mom.

"I would recommend the book to anyone interested in wonderful books on the Great Depression and treasure-hunting girls in Florida. I would give the book no less than five stars: two stars for the cover, one star for the adventure, one star for keeping me interested and one star for the humor which made laugh till my sides ached."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming story set in the 1930's, June 16, 2011
A Kid's Review
Some Spoilers included

11 year old Turtle knows life is not all peaches and cream, unlike her
single mother who has big dreams of Hollywood. Now, Turtle does not like
people who make life seem like this, such as Shirley Temple. Turtle is head-
strong and doesn't shed a tear when she's sent off to spend the summer with her
aunt and cousins for the summer, while her mother is working as a housekeeper for
a woman who does not like children one bit.

In her relative's Florida home she meets her cousins, which are all boys.
Her cousins are in a group called The Diaper Gang, which is a club of all boys, who take care of babies who cry a lot and take care of them to change their crying
personality around. Instead of getting paid by money, they get paid by candy.
Turtle ends up sort of joining this club even though the boys have one major
rule and that is "No Girls Allow". The Diaper Gang ends up going on a fantastic
adventure and find some long-last treasure on an island a while away from their
home. They end up "borrowing" a boat to get there. On the island they end up going
through The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, a strong, massive hurricane which was
a Category 5, the worst of all. They do feel some strong winds, but most of
the hurricane had its eye on a different section of Florida. They do end up finding the treasure, which contained thousands of dollars, and they also
end up getting rescued by a local sailor that lives near them, since their
boat floated away when they first got to the island.

When they return to Key West, they all divide the money between them.
Turtle's grandmother also ends up liking her, and under all of her grandmother's
tough personality they actually end up sharing a special bond together.There is
also a surprise at the end that ends up being sad, but happy at the end.

I would give this book 5 stars since it was just wonderful. period.
It had a classic charm to it and I love how the author set it in the 1930's
when the time was simple and children got ice cream for a nickle.I loved
the book and I think anyone would.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book once you get into it., December 9, 2010
By 
J.C. (Southern California) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Turtle in Paradise (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I tried to read this twice before it held my attention. Once I finally got into the story, though, I really enjoyed it and wished it were longer.

It is set during the depression and no one has much money. Turtle, an 11 year old girl finds herself shipped off to live relatives in Key West because her mother is a housekeeper now working for someone who doesn't tolerate children. She meets her previously unmet cousins who are part of a Diaper Gang, a group of babysitting boys who watch babies to earn candy. One rule is "no girls allowed." Nonetheless, she hangs out with them and proves her worth. The story is reminiscent of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

It is a very quick read, engaging, the characters likeable. Although I got it for my pre-teens, I enjoyed the story as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Turtle in Paradise, August 20, 2013
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Turtle in Paradise (Paperback)
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm is a book about a strong and spunky eleven year old girl named Turtle. The story takes place during the summer of 1935 during the great depression. Turtle's mother has to send her to Key West Florida to spend some time with family that she has never met. When Turtle gets to Key West with her cat smokey she realizes that nobody was expecting her. All of her cousins are boys and they are rude, stingy and fight all the time! The hardest part is for Turtle to find a way to fit into this family and strange new place.

(spoiler warning)
There are many adventures for Turtle to discover during that summer. She finds a map in her grandmothers piano that leads them to a buried treasure! Her cousins and their friends have a club called "The Diaper Gang". Turtle tries to become part of this crew of boys who get paid for babysitting with candy. Turtle also gets to know her Aunt Minnie who is always busy taking care of everyone. Aunt Minnie isn't very happy to be taking care of another child when Turtle gets to her house. Her cousins are Beans, Buddy, Kermit, and they all live with a dog named Termite. The biggest person for Turtle to get to know is her very mean grandmother named Nana Philly. She gives Turtle a really hard time at first but they finally get to be very close. I really liked Turtle and the way she stood up to all the new people she met. Her strong personality helped her to get through all the hard times.

The author was very good at describing what it was like in Key West and it made me want to go there for a visit. I really learned a lot about the history of Key West from reading this book. At times this book reminded of a very laid back beach house that I have visited with my family during my summers. I could almost see the kids running barefoot everywhere. Parts of the book were boring but I loved Turtle so I kept reading the story. The ending of the book was exciting when the "Diaper Gang" and Turtle finally gets the treasure. Turtle is accepted by her cousins and she realizes how important it is to have a family and friends. Turtle is happy and it leaves you with a good feeling.

This book was good and I am glad that I read it. I would recommend it to my friends because it has adventure and history in the story. The best part of the book is seeing Turtle find out how to fit in with her new family. I really liked the part where Turtle and her mean grandmother learn to like each other. Turtle's mother finally comes to get her after the summer but she isn't so sure she wants to leave!
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Turtle in Paradise
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm (Paperback - December 27, 2011)
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