"No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are." Pablo Freire

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Turtle in Paradise

Remarkable, Intriguing, Endearing, Inveigle, Capturing
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
Published by Random House Copyright 2010
Newbery Honor Book 2011, Booklist Editor's Choice, NY Times Bestseller, &&A Kirkus Reviews Best Childrens Book of 2010

"Sweet, funny and superb"
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Arriving in Key West in 1935, meeting her aunt and cousins for the first time, Turtle is unhappy and distraught. Her mother, Sadiebelle received a new job working for Mrs. Budnick. However, Mrs. Budnick doesn't like kids, so Turtle had to be sent away. After Turtle arrives she struggles to find her place in Key West. But then she discovers the Diaper Gang: Beans, Kermit, Buddy and Pork Chop. They watch children and change their diapers with the secret ingredient that cures all. Turtle tags along with the Diaper Gang so she doesn't have to sit at home, risking the chance that she might have to watch one of her cousins. One day Aunt Minnie asks Turtle to take lunch to Nana Philly. Soon Turtle realizes it's her grandmother, feeling very hurt and confused as to why her mother would lie to her. Caught up in the need for money, Turtle seeks a job with Slow Poke, hearing stories of gold and Black Caesar's treasure along the way. When Turtle discovers a map and a gold coin in Nana Philly's piano it changes her life forever!

Reading Level: Grade 3/4 Lexile 610L
Suggested Delivery: This book is great for a continuous read aloud in class or a small group read for more advanced students.
Curry Lane
Extras: On the first pages of the book there is a definition for conch, that could be used for a before reading activity to introduce students to the word and it's meaning. There is also a section called "author's note" in the back of the book discussing how this book was inspired and where it came from, including pictures. After this section there is another page "resources" where Holm displays the resources she used in order to make this book more accurate. There are also three websites on the page 189. Next there is the "acknowledgments" where Holm gives her thanks to those that helped her along the way. There is also a short section called "about the author" where Holm talks about her other books and gives readers her website to learn more.

Teachers, here are some resources that may help you teach Turtle in Paradise...
Key Vocabulary: fraying, bloomers, serum, peddling, mange, abide, furtively, harried, exasperated, forlorn, abruptly, kraals, mutiny, dinghy, intently, conch, cistern, bollos, scoffs, filtering, salvage, guffaws, crucified, wade, bearing, wistfully, narrator, conspiratorial, glint, chortles, feigns, ignorance, rheumatic, erupt, sauntering, gingerly, mending, despicable, arsenic, bungy, linger, debris, brash, cocky, podium, scruffy, sappier, anguished

Electronic Resources:
Jennifer Holm
  • AuthorsWebsite: Here you can view all of Holm's books as well as a short synopsis and awards each book has won.
  • Pictures: On this website you can read a summary of the book, as well as pictures from Curry Lane, Pepes, Duval Street, Sloppy Joe's, and more! Great for students to look at during reading to get a clear picture of what it may look like, or also after reading to clear up ideas. It may also be useful to show students the pictures in the book.
  • TheScoop: You can find information about the book, a summary of the book, a spoiler alert of the book, and content keywords in the book on this website. This would be beneficial for teachers to look at prior to reading or teaching the book to get a better sense of it's background and history.  
  • PublishersWebsite: On the publishers website you can buy the book in a hard copy, an ebook and an audio book. Students with disabilities, ELLs or students that need additional help would benefit from using different forms of this book. It also has information about the book, about the author, praise and quotes from reviews, and a PDF teacher's guide that can be downloaded. This site is optimal for teachers before reading. 

Activties for Students: 
  • Before Reading: Discuss the history of Florida in 1935 and what was happening in the world at that time. This is where the information in the back of the book could be used, prior to reading. Read the "author's note" to introduce the history, allowing students to ask questions and put pieces of history together. It may be helpful to research history using other resources and creating a small time-line to go along with the book.
  • During Reading: In different stages of the book Turtle feels different ways. Have students write letters home to Sadiebelle acting as if they were Turtle, telling her what is going on, how she feels, and what might come next. This formal assessment would be beneficial to teachers to ensure students are comprehending the material.
  • After Reading: In the "author's note" previously read, Holm  discusses entertainment and how it amused children. Little Orphan Annie and Shirley Temple were huge stars in the book that kept appearing throughout. Research along with students to provide them with information about Annie or Shirley Temple. Have each student write a letter to Turtle describing their favorite media star today, comparing and contrasting their favorite star with one that Turtle discussed. It may be helpful to create a Venn Diagram prior to writing the letter.
"Turtle is just the right mixture of knowingness and hope; the plot is a hilarious blend of family dramas seasoned with a dollop of adventure."
- Booklist, Starred Review

 Holm, J. L. (2010). Turtle in paradise . New York: Random House.

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