Turtle moves to Key West to live with an aunt and cousins she has never met. Her mother has a new job as a housekeeper with a lady who doesn’t allow kids, but she also has a new boyfriend, Archie, with good prospects. So Turtle is sent to the Keys and Aunt Minerva. Only Aunt Minerva doesn’t know she is coming and her cousins are not thrilled to have a girl around. They definitely don’t want her in their Diaper Gang, but they do let her tag along. The Diaper Gang is the group of boys who takes “bad” babies for the day so their mothers can have a break. They have a secret recipe for diaper rash and bad bungies (cornstarch) and they get paid in candy. It is they 1930s and the Depression is on; everyone has to do their part to help out. Turtle even tries her hand at sponge fishing and she starts taking care of Nana Philly who turns out to be her grandma. The Keys are full of interesting characters with interesting names…like Beans and Too Bad and Slow Poke to name a few. It seems that everyone has a nickname in Key West.
I enjoyed this book. I thought it was fun and Turtle was a great character. I liked her adventures with the Diaper Gang; they seemed like things kids would really do at that time (except maybe finding the treasure!). All of the characters were very fun and had their own personalities…maybe the kids more so than the adults. I really didn’t know much about the Keys so this was a nice look at what Key West was like during this time period and from the Author’s Notes it seems to be fairly accurate. If I had a complaint about the book it would be the ending. I felt like it was rushed and predictable and really didn’t do the book justice. I think a little more thought could have gone into the last 30-40 pages but other than that I really enjoyed the book and Turtle’s story.
2011 Newbery Honor Book.