Turtle in Paradise

  Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm

Inspired by family stories, two-time Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Holm beautifully blends family lore with America's past in this charming gem of a novel, rich in historical detail, humor, and the unique flavors of Key West.

Life isn't like the movies, and eleven-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She's smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935, and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle's mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida, to stay with relatives she's never met.

Florida's like nothing Turtle has ever seen. It's hot and strange, full of wild green peeping out between houses, ragtag boy cousins, and secret treasure. Before she knows what's happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she has spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the thing most surprising to Turtle about life in Key West?
  2. What surprised you about Key West?
  3. Cousins Buddy and Beans run the Diaper Gang for fussy babies - what did you think about the whole project?
  4. What did you think of everyone’s names in the book? Did their names have any significance?
  5. Turtle finds a treasure map in the piano of the old lady Nana Philly - did your idea about the woman change when Turtle discovered she was her Grandma?
  6. Did you think maybe Slow Poke was Turtle's father before she did? Why?
  7. Have you ever been outside at night during a terrible storm? What was it like?
  8. Do you like the way the treasure money was divided and spent?
  9. How were Aunt Minnie and Turtle's mother alike? Different?
  10. Was the ending just right for the story?

If you liked Turtle in Paradise, you might also like:

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Junonia by Kevin Henkes

Lexie by Audrey Couloumbis

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

The Wonder of Charlie Anne by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse