Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Historical/1930s/Family Stories
Release Date: 5/25/2010
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About the Book: It's 1935 and jobs aren't easy to find. So when Turtle's mom gets a housekeeping job that won't allow her to have kids in the house, she send Turtle to live in Key West with her Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Turtle doesn't know anything about living in Key West and finds a whole new world. She encounters scorpions, a group of boys known as the diaper gang, a crabby old lady, and a legend about buried treasure. Can Turtle find the treasure and find her way to easy street?
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I'm a bit mixed on if I think this book was Newbery Honor worthy. On one hand I really enjoyed it, the storyline is great, and the author weaves together a lovely plot. On the other, I thought there was a lot that wasn't developed and the book wrapped up too quickly. The end of the book felt much different than the beginning.
The setting of 1930's Key West is a unique one-I didn't know much about Key West during this time, so I learned a bit from this book. But while this is a historical novel, it could almost be set in any time period. Turtle's life might be a bit simpler, and there are lots of references to 30's comics and Shirley Temple, but the characters and adventure and dreaming for something bigger fit no matter what the time period.
Although Turtle is the narrator and the story is told in first person, there were times I forgot she was narrating the story. At times it almost feels like her voice goes into a third person limited narration. This threw me off a bit and I had to remind myself Turtle was telling the story. I also had a problem with how fast the ending wrapped up. For the most part, the book reads almost like a diary, with day to day adventures of Turtle and her cousins in Key West. Then the ending throws in a bunch of twists and instead of giving time to wrap things up with these characters we've gotten to know and care about throughout the book just ends. As an adult, I got the subtlety that is thrown in at the end and could figure out the things left unsaid (and yes, it's a bit predictable) but I wonder how much will go over young readers heads.
It might sound like I didn't enjoy this one, but I really did! It's a fast read that's full of humor and I really enjoyed Turtle's voice. She's a likeable character and she reminded me a bit of India Opal Buloni from Because of Winn-Dixie or Franny Chapman in Countdown. I loved the diaper gang and thought they were hilarious! And the setting of 1930's Key West makes the book stand out and a bit more unique.
It's a great read and I flew through it-it's a very easy read. It would be good for a classroom read aloud and I think it has some kid appeal, especially for readers who like historical fiction. I could even see it being used as a step up from the American Girl series for readers who like Kit. I just would have liked a more fleshed out ending.
Book Pairings: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Countdown by Deborah Wiles, American Girl Series by Various Authors
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy I borrowed from my local public library