Turtle in Paradise

The Graphic Novel

Paperback
$12.99 US
On sale Jun 29, 2021 | 256 Pages | 9780593126301
A graphic novel adaptation of the beloved, bestselling Newbery Honor-winning novel.

Eleven-year-old Turtle is smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935 and money—and sometimes even dreams—is scarce. So when Turtle's mother gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle heads off to Florida to live with relatives. Florida's like nothing Turtle's ever seen before, though. It's full of ragtag boy cousins, family secrets to unravel . . . and even a little bit of fun. Before she knows what's happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of her shell. And as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways.

Inspired by family stories, three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm blends family lore with America's past in this charming gem of a novel, now adapted into graphic novel form by rising star Savanna Ganucheau.
Everyone thinks children are sweet as Necco Wafers, but I've lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten. The only difference between grown-ups and kids is that grown-ups go to jail for murder. Kids get away with it.  

I stare out the window as Mr. Edgit's Ford Model A rumbles along the road, kicking up clouds of dust. It's so hot that the backs of my legs feel like melted gum, only stickier. We've been driving for days now; it feels like eternity.   In front of us is a rusty pickup truck with a gang of dirty-looking kids in the back sandwiched between furniture--an iron bed, a rocking chair, battered pots--all tied up with little bits of fraying rope like a spiderweb. A girl my age is holding a baby that's got a pair of ladies' bloomers tied on its head to keep the sun out of its eyes. The boy sitting next to her has a gap between his two front teeth. Not that this stops him from blowing spitballs at us through a straw. We've been stuck behind this truckfor the last few miles, and our windshield is covered with wadded bits of wet newspaper.

A spitball smacks the window and Mr. Edgit hammers the horn with the palm of his hand. The no-good boy just laughs and sticks out his tongue.  

"There oughta be a law. No wonder this country's going to the dogs," Mr. Edgit grumbles.  

Mr. Edgit ("You can call me Lyle") has a lot of opinions. He says folks in the Dust Bowl wouldn't be having so much trouble if they'd just move near some water. He says he doesn't think President Roosevelt will get us out of this Depression and that if you give someone money for not working why would they ever bother to get a job? But mostly Mr. Edgit talks about a new hair serum he's selling that's going to make him rich. It's called Hair Today, and he's a believer. He's used the product himself.  

"Can you see the new hair, Turtle?" he asks, pointing at his shiny bald head.  

I don't see anything. It must grow invisible hair.  

Maybe Archie should start selling hair serum. If his pal Mr. Edgit's anything to go by, most men would rather have hair than be smart. Archie's a traveling salesman. He's sold everything--brushes, gadgets, Bibles, you name it. Right now he's peddling encyclopedias.  

"I could sell a trap to a mouse," Archie likes to say, and it's the truth. Housewives can't resist him. I know Mama couldn't.  

It was last May, one day after my tenth birthday, when I opened the door of Mrs. Grant's house and saw Archie standing there. He had dark brown eyes and thick black hair brushed back with lemon pomade.  

"Well, hello there," Archie said to me, tipping his Panama hat. "Is the lady of the house at home?"  

"Which lady?" I asked. "The ugly one or the pretty one?"  

He laughed. "Why, ain't you a sweet little thing."  

"I'm not sweet," I said. "I slugged Ronald Caruthers when he tried to throw my cat in the well, and I'd do it again."   Archie roared with laughter. "I'll bet you would! What's your name, princess?"  

"Turtle," I said.  

"Turtle, huh?" he mused, stroking his chin. "I can see why. Got a little snap to you, don't ya?"  

"Who's that you're talking to, Turtle?" my mother called, coming to the door.  

Archie smiled at Mama. "You must be the pretty lady."  

Mama put her hand over her heart. Otherwise it would have leaped right out of her chest. She fell so hard for Archie she left a dent in the floor.  

Mama's always falling in love, and the fellas she picks are like dandelions. One day they're there, bright as sunshine--charming Mama, buying me presents--and the next they're gone, scattered to the wind, leaving weeds everywhere and Mama crying.  

But Mama says Archie's different, and I'm starting to think she may be right. He keeps his promises, and he hasn't disappeared yet. Even Smokey likes him, which is saying something, considering she bit the last fella Mama dated. Also, he's got big dreams,which is more than I can say for most of them.  

"Mark my words, princess," Archie told me. "We'll be living on Easy Street someday."
  • WINNER
    NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
  • WINNER
    Newbery Honor Book
  • WINNER
    Young Adult Services Division, School Library Journal Author Award
  • NOMINEE
    Massachusetts Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    New York State Charlotte Award
  • NOMINEE
    Kentucky Bluegrass Award
  • NOMINEE
    Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award
  • NOMINEE
    Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    South Carolina Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    Texas Bluebonnet Master List
  • NOMINEE
    Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fischer Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    Indiana Young Hoosier Award
  • SUBMITTED
    South Carolina Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    ALA Notable Children's Book
  • NOMINEE
    Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    Florida Sunshine State Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    IRA Children's Choices
  • NOMINEE
    Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award
  • NOMINEE
    IRA Teachers' Choices
  • SELECTION | 2022
    Kansas National Education Association Reading Circle Catalog
  • NOMINEE | 2014
    Minnesota Maud Heart Lovelace Award
  • FINALIST | 2014
    California Young Reader Medal
© Photo provided by the author
Jennifer L. Holm is a New York Times bestselling children's author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels Our Only May Amelia, Penny From Heaven, and Turtle in Paradise. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series—the Eisner Award-winning Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. She lives in California with her husband and two children. View titles by Jennifer L. Holm

Educator Guide for Turtle in Paradise

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

About

A graphic novel adaptation of the beloved, bestselling Newbery Honor-winning novel.

Eleven-year-old Turtle is smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935 and money—and sometimes even dreams—is scarce. So when Turtle's mother gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle heads off to Florida to live with relatives. Florida's like nothing Turtle's ever seen before, though. It's full of ragtag boy cousins, family secrets to unravel . . . and even a little bit of fun. Before she knows what's happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of her shell. And as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways.

Inspired by family stories, three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm blends family lore with America's past in this charming gem of a novel, now adapted into graphic novel form by rising star Savanna Ganucheau.

Excerpt

Everyone thinks children are sweet as Necco Wafers, but I've lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten. The only difference between grown-ups and kids is that grown-ups go to jail for murder. Kids get away with it.  

I stare out the window as Mr. Edgit's Ford Model A rumbles along the road, kicking up clouds of dust. It's so hot that the backs of my legs feel like melted gum, only stickier. We've been driving for days now; it feels like eternity.   In front of us is a rusty pickup truck with a gang of dirty-looking kids in the back sandwiched between furniture--an iron bed, a rocking chair, battered pots--all tied up with little bits of fraying rope like a spiderweb. A girl my age is holding a baby that's got a pair of ladies' bloomers tied on its head to keep the sun out of its eyes. The boy sitting next to her has a gap between his two front teeth. Not that this stops him from blowing spitballs at us through a straw. We've been stuck behind this truckfor the last few miles, and our windshield is covered with wadded bits of wet newspaper.

A spitball smacks the window and Mr. Edgit hammers the horn with the palm of his hand. The no-good boy just laughs and sticks out his tongue.  

"There oughta be a law. No wonder this country's going to the dogs," Mr. Edgit grumbles.  

Mr. Edgit ("You can call me Lyle") has a lot of opinions. He says folks in the Dust Bowl wouldn't be having so much trouble if they'd just move near some water. He says he doesn't think President Roosevelt will get us out of this Depression and that if you give someone money for not working why would they ever bother to get a job? But mostly Mr. Edgit talks about a new hair serum he's selling that's going to make him rich. It's called Hair Today, and he's a believer. He's used the product himself.  

"Can you see the new hair, Turtle?" he asks, pointing at his shiny bald head.  

I don't see anything. It must grow invisible hair.  

Maybe Archie should start selling hair serum. If his pal Mr. Edgit's anything to go by, most men would rather have hair than be smart. Archie's a traveling salesman. He's sold everything--brushes, gadgets, Bibles, you name it. Right now he's peddling encyclopedias.  

"I could sell a trap to a mouse," Archie likes to say, and it's the truth. Housewives can't resist him. I know Mama couldn't.  

It was last May, one day after my tenth birthday, when I opened the door of Mrs. Grant's house and saw Archie standing there. He had dark brown eyes and thick black hair brushed back with lemon pomade.  

"Well, hello there," Archie said to me, tipping his Panama hat. "Is the lady of the house at home?"  

"Which lady?" I asked. "The ugly one or the pretty one?"  

He laughed. "Why, ain't you a sweet little thing."  

"I'm not sweet," I said. "I slugged Ronald Caruthers when he tried to throw my cat in the well, and I'd do it again."   Archie roared with laughter. "I'll bet you would! What's your name, princess?"  

"Turtle," I said.  

"Turtle, huh?" he mused, stroking his chin. "I can see why. Got a little snap to you, don't ya?"  

"Who's that you're talking to, Turtle?" my mother called, coming to the door.  

Archie smiled at Mama. "You must be the pretty lady."  

Mama put her hand over her heart. Otherwise it would have leaped right out of her chest. She fell so hard for Archie she left a dent in the floor.  

Mama's always falling in love, and the fellas she picks are like dandelions. One day they're there, bright as sunshine--charming Mama, buying me presents--and the next they're gone, scattered to the wind, leaving weeds everywhere and Mama crying.  

But Mama says Archie's different, and I'm starting to think she may be right. He keeps his promises, and he hasn't disappeared yet. Even Smokey likes him, which is saying something, considering she bit the last fella Mama dated. Also, he's got big dreams,which is more than I can say for most of them.  

"Mark my words, princess," Archie told me. "We'll be living on Easy Street someday."

Awards

  • WINNER
    NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
  • WINNER
    Newbery Honor Book
  • WINNER
    Young Adult Services Division, School Library Journal Author Award
  • NOMINEE
    Massachusetts Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    New York State Charlotte Award
  • NOMINEE
    Kentucky Bluegrass Award
  • NOMINEE
    Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award
  • NOMINEE
    Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    South Carolina Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    Texas Bluebonnet Master List
  • NOMINEE
    Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fischer Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    Indiana Young Hoosier Award
  • SUBMITTED
    South Carolina Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    ALA Notable Children's Book
  • NOMINEE
    Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    Florida Sunshine State Book Award
  • NOMINEE
    IRA Children's Choices
  • NOMINEE
    Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award
  • NOMINEE
    IRA Teachers' Choices
  • SELECTION | 2022
    Kansas National Education Association Reading Circle Catalog
  • NOMINEE | 2014
    Minnesota Maud Heart Lovelace Award
  • FINALIST | 2014
    California Young Reader Medal

Author

© Photo provided by the author
Jennifer L. Holm is a New York Times bestselling children's author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels Our Only May Amelia, Penny From Heaven, and Turtle in Paradise. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series—the Eisner Award-winning Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. She lives in California with her husband and two children. View titles by Jennifer L. Holm

Guides

Educator Guide for Turtle in Paradise

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)