Newbery Honor Book Turtle in Paradise is beloved by readers, and now they can return to this wonderful world through the eyes of Turtle’s cousin Beans.
Grown-ups lie. That’s one truth Beans knows for sure. He and his gang know how to spot a whopper a mile away, because they are the savviest bunch of barefoot conchs (that means “locals”) in all of Key West. Not that Beans really minds; it’s 1934, the middle of the Great Depression. With no jobs on the island, and no money anywhere, who can really blame the grown-ups for telling a few tales? Besides, Beans isn’t anyone’s fool. In fact, he has plans. Big plans. And the consequences might surprise even Beans himself.
Jennifer Holm has written another really appealing historical fiction novel based on her family history. While I don't normally have much luck getting students to read historical fiction, I think I could get them to read this since Beans is such a likeable, interesting character. I also loved Key West as a setting and watching it change for the better. Beans willingness to work to earn money to go to the movies and help out his mom is a major plot point that leads to conflict when Beans starts working for a bootlegger who asks him to set off fire alarms to help him transport contraband. The pay is good but the consequences are not and Beans is left trying to make up for his mistakes. The friendships as well as the other people Beans interacts with make the story an interesting one. Beans' little brother Kermit, his grandmother Nana Philly (the meanest woman in Key West), and his feud with Dot (a girl!) all play a role in the choices Beans makes and who he ends up deciding to be. Holm has written another winner with great characters, a fabulous setting, and an interesting plot.