Turtle in Paradise

We read, or rather listened to, Jennifer L. Holm's Turtle in Paradise (Random House, 2010) under the best possible circumstances--while driving to the Keys (that would be Paradise) during last year's summer vacation--so I have fond memories of it and was very happy (if also a little surprised) to see it get a Newbery Honor.  Turtle in Paradise is in some ways a typical Newbery pick, at least this year: it's historical fiction; it's about a girl (that would be Turtle); she's sent away to live with relatives in a new and unfamiliar place.  That describes three of the five Newbery books this year (including the winner).  Narrow the historical part down to the Great Depression and you still have two (including this one and the winner).

Which is not to say that Turtle isn't a worthy pick: I happen to know a carful of people who liked it lots!  I checked it out of the library and reread it as soon as we got home even, and my only complaint was that the ending felt a little rushed (I was afraid I might have drifted off and missed something, actually).  But it was always funny, sour and sweet like a Key West cut-up, a great summer read or read-aloud.

Like Penny from Heaven and Our Only May Amelia, Holm's other Newbery Honor books, Turtle in Paradise was inspired by family history; and the Author's Note includes family photographs (I love these) as well as a testimonial to the effectiveness of a certain diaper-rash formula--Holm uses it on her own babies' bungies.

[In other news for fans of Jennifer Holm, a sequel to Our Only May Amelia at last!  The Trouble with May Amelia (Atheneum) will be out in April.]