Title: Turtle in Paradise
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
ISBN: 9780375836886
Pages: 191 pages
Publisher/Date: Random House, c2010.

Mama says she’s lucky to have a job with Mrs. Budnick considering how tough times are. I don’t know how lucky I am, though. Mrs. Budnick shook her head when Mama brought our things over to her house.
“You didn’t say anything about a child. Children are noisy. I can’t abide noise,” Mrs. Budnick said, tapping her foot. […]
So now I’m on my way to Key West to live with Mama’s sister, Minerva, who I’ve never met. […]
Mama thinks me going to Key West is a swell idea.
“You’ll love it, baby,” Mama told me. Mama’s good at looking at the sunny side of life. Her favorite song is “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.”
I blame Hollywood. Mama’s watched so many pictures that she velieves in happy endings. She’s been waiting her whole life to find someone who’ll sweep her off her feet and take care of her.
Me? I think life’s more like that cartoon by Mr. Disney–The Three Little Pigs. Some big bad wolf’s always trying to blow down your house.(9-10)

Eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to live with her aunt in Key West Florida while her mother works as a housekeeper for a woman who doesn’t like kids. Turtle really doesn’t know her aunt or her cousins very well, and at first has a really hard time getting used to this new life where no one wears shoes and everyone is called weird names. Finally beginning to make friends, rumors of treasure will unite Turtle with her cousins’ Diaper Gang, but what they find might prove there’s more then treasure in Key West as Turtle discovers a family history she never knew.

First, I need to get something off my chest — Who in their right mind would name their kid Turtle?! It sounds like a celebrity name, like Apple, or a bad nickname. Granted, there are plenty of unusual nicknames in this book, but Turtle as a legal name?! GAHH!

Okay, now that that is out of the way, I liked the book. It moves slowly in the beginning (like a turtle?) but then it really picks up the pace, and towards the end there are curve balls that just come one after another and kind of steam roll the reader. I actually like the curve ball ending because I really didn’t see one of them coming (I’ll let you guess which one). I liked how realistic the boys reactions are to letting a girl in the group, and you can tell the kids are just trying to stay entertained with their antics around the island. It has some exciting action, such as when the boys convince the town there’s a ghost or when the hurricane hits, but a lot of it isn’t observed by Turtle, so readers don’t witness it first hand. There’s quite a bit of humor as well, although some of it might go over some kids heads. I liked how readers get little bits of history and culture through the eyes of newcomer Turtle, such as hunting for sponges and eating turtle.

Overall a really nice read, although I hate to generalize but this Newbery Honor book might be better suited for girls just a bit more than boys due to the main character being a girl and the slow start. Stick with it though, because the humor and action will capture readers.