Tag Archives: 1930s

Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm – The Newbery Project


Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm

Praise be to all that is sunny in Florida. I was not wrong. I did remember correctly that Turtle in Paradise  was a great book. Funny, even. Okay, yes, there is a sad part in the end. But this sadness is nowhere near as overwhelming as the heart-crushing grief caused by Our Only May Amelia (Just last night I got teary-eyed trying to describe that book to my husband. In fact, it’s making me a little melancholy AGAIN just thinking about it.)

I listened to Turtle on audiobook in 2011 and LOVED it. But after reading Our Only May Amelia and listening to Penny From Heaven, I wondered if my memory deceived me. Amelia, of course, plunged me into a mini-depression. Parts of it were just that sad. Penny wasn’t quite as mournful, but it certainly didn’t live up to my memories of Turtle. Turtle is just funny.

Favorite lines:

“We got babies today.”

“I don’t like babies. They’re like Shirley Temple. Everybody thinks they’re cute, but all they do is scream and make messy diapers.” —  I’ve been trying to remember for two years where I got this line from. Have to admit, I thought our own clever E. had said it, but then I kept wondering how she knew about Shirley Temple. Of course E. didn’t say it — Turtle did.

And yes, I LOVED the diaper gang.

Plot Summary from Jennifer L. Holm’s website:

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.

Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm, Audiobook narrated by Becca Battoe

Newbery Honor: 2011

A.R Level/Points:  3.7/4.0; Middle Grades

Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright – The Newbery Project

Elizabeth Enright

Thimble Summer

Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright

Newbery Medal – 1939

AR Level: 5.7

Recommended for 4th through 8th grade girls

Themes: Nostalgia, farm life, family, 1930s

Thimble Summer, Elizabeth Enright’s first Newbery Award winner, is a lovely book for the clever girl who enjoys books about the “olden days.” Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in the beginning of the story and believes it bodes well for her summer. As the story progresses, she experiences new things, expands her horizons, and realizes how much she loves her family and home. Like Gone Away Lake, Enright’s other Newbrry winner, Thimble Summer just sort of flows from one scene to another. There isn’t an obvious plot, although Timmy the pig and the lucky thimble make a couple of appearances, but the story draws you back in each time with the beauty and joy of each Garnet’s experiences.

Garnet has a level of freedom most children in 2010 can barely imagine. She wanders all over town, hitchhikes to a nearby city and explores the county fair on her own, all at apparently ten years of age.  When reading this book, and others of its era, you can’t help but wonder how our children now ever achieve the independence and creativity of earlier generations. For our over-protected children, it’s a little window to a world they may never know.