Turtle in Paradise

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Inspired by family stories, two-time Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Holm beautifully blends family lore with America's past in this charming gem of a novel, rich in historical detail, humor, and the unique flavors of Key West.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. From the Hardcover edition.
Curriculet Details
45 Questions
48 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for elementary school students contains interactive videos exploring conflicts in literature and figurative language, as well as annotations describing inferences and allusion. Annotations also help students visualize some of the historic points mentioned in the story. Students will explore the themes of adventure and acceptance. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1 - Rotten Kids

Watch the book trailer below to learn a little about this story before you start reading.  (This annotation contains a video)
This paragraph gives you many clues about the setting of the story. Mentioning the Dust Bowl, President Roosevelt, and the Depression let you know this story takes place in the 1930s. Novels such as this one that tell a fictional story within the setting of a real time and place are known as historical fiction. Watch the video below to learn more about this genre.  (This annotation contains a video)
What can you infer about Mama based on these paragraphs? 
Here is a video of Shirley Temple.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Turtle going to Key West? 

Chapter 2 - Paradise Lost

You can see in the map below that Key West is the last in a string of islands below Florida.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is wrong with the sign on the boy's wagon? 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Describe Aunt Minnie's reaction to Turtle's arrival. 

Chapter 3 - Lucky as an Orphan

Point of view is the narrator's position in relation to the story being told. Watch this video to learn more about point of view.  (This annotation contains a video)
This story is told through which point of view? 
All of the children have non-traditional names: Turtle, Termite, Beans, and Kermit. Do you think they have their names for a reason? 
Describe Turtle's new home. Use details from the passage to support your answer. 
It is a little surprising that a group of boys, who were mischievous enough to get kicked out of their house, change diapers as part of a gang. 
All of the following are rules of the Diaper Gang EXCEPT 

Chapter 4 - The Conch Telegraph

Scorpions are arthropods that contain venom which can be dangerous for humans. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this exchange with Beans tell you about Turtle? 
The author, Jennifer Holm, is telling you in this section that there are reasons for the unusual character names. 
Why does Holm have Turtle accompany the boys on their walk? 
Sponge fishing was popular during the 1930s in Key West. The sponges were used for bathing and cleaning. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 5 - Can You Spare a Nickel, Pal?

Why did Jennifer Holm describe the weather as "...so hot I wouldn't be surprised if the hens were laying hard-boiled eggs"? 
Matecumbe is a neighborhood on one of the islands closer to Florida. The highway they are speaking of will connect all of the Keys to Florida, making getting to the islands much easier. Construction began in the 1930s. Many repairs have been made since then, but the highway still stands today. Take a look at the vintage postcard below. (This annotation contains an image)
Use the Define feature and read the definition for skulking  Which of the following words is an synonym of skulking as it is used here? 
The highlighted expression is an example of a simile. Watch this video to learn more about similes and metaphors. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Turtle not share her ice cream? 

Chapter 6 - The Truth of the Matter

"Pfff" is an example of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word from the sound it is related to. The words arf, meow, and buzz are other forms of onomatopoeia. 
What have you learned about Turtle's view of her relationship with her mother? 
"Eyes wide as saucers" is an example of what type of figurative language? 
From the map below you can see that the country of Cuba is close to Key West.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Johnny Cakes lie to Turtle about being a rumrunner? 
The "funny pages" are also known as the comics section of the newspaper. 
Section 1 Quiz 

Chapter 7 - Terry and Pat

If Turtle had told Slow Poke the truth that she did not know how to swim, do you think he would have let her go on the boat? 
Why did Turtle give Slow Poke the nickname Pat? 
Sponge fishing is shown in the video below. The video shows a diver going in for the sponge. Turtle and Slow Poke stay in a small boat and fish from it.  (This annotation contains a video)
The theme of a book is a message that stretches through an entire story. It is often a lesson that you learn about life or people. Which of the following themes is emerging in this story? 
Black Caesar was a famous pirate. Here is a movie trailer featuring him.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 8 - A Big, Happy Family

How does Mrs. Soldano knows who Turtle is? 
Key West is now a wealthy vacation destination, but it was a poor town during this time period. Everyone is trying to get extra money. Mrs. Soldano's method is to play the lottery. 
Why do the kids keep saying Turtle does not know anything? 
Philomena is Nanny Philly's real name. 
Why are all of the kids afraid of Nana Philly? 

Chapter 9 - The Diaper Gang Knows

Little Orphan Annie is another of Turtle's favorite comics. (This annotation contains an image)
What clues on this page let you know you are reading a historical fiction story? 
A cut-up is something Turtle would not have been able to experience in New Jersey. It needs many different kinds of fruits and vegetables, which are found all around the island. 
Who or what is Miss Sugarapple's ghost? 
This is the first time Turtle is allowed to handle one of the babies. Do you think this makes her a member of the Diaper Gang? 
Mrs. Higgs heard a weeping sound when the spirit visited her. What did she really hear? 

Chapter 10 - The Man of the House

The stock market crash that Turtle is referring to happened in 1929 and marked the beginning of the Great Depression.  
What issue do the boys have with Killie the Horse? 
The boys' reaction to seeing their dad is obvious glee. Aunt Minnie does not seem as elated. Turtle notices this is in contrast to her mother's reaction when Archie comes home. 
How did Turtle get her nickname? 
Holm includes this paragraph to let you know that Uncle Vernon knows Turtle's mother. 
Holm wrote another historical fiction book called "Penny from Heaven." Follow the link below to read the description of the main character Penny, then answer the following question.  (This annotation contains a link)
Compare and contrast Penny from Penny from Heaven to Turtle from this story. Include examples from the website you just visited and this story to support your answer. 

Chapter 11 - Ladies Who Lunch

It must be strange for Turtle to meet her grandmother under these circumstances, especially since she always thought she was dead. 
Turtle never fed Nana Philly her lunch, but would eat in front of her instead. What does this tell you about Turtle? 
You know from earlier chapters that Turtle has had many experiences dealing with "rotten kids." 
What did Turtle learn on her second lunch with her grandmother? 
There are conflicts in every story. Watch this video to see which conflicts Turtle is facing.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 12 - Hard Times

What does Turtle mean when she said Uncle Vernon "took a little bit of Aunt Minnie's good humor with him"? 
Slow Poke is teasing Turtle, but she is getting more comfortable around town. 
Why does Turtle say that having to give Smokey up is almost worse than being sent away from her mother? 
Most scorpions are not deadly to humans. The site below gives more information about scorpions.  (This annotation contains a link)
What does Aunt Minnie find hard to believe? 
Section 2 Quiz 

Chapter 13 - Believing in Monsters

Turtle is helping Miss Bea by feeding Nana lunch and Miss Bea is helping Turtle by housing her cat. 
How are Turtle and Nana helping each other? 
If Slow Poke had been available for Turtle to share the coin with, do you think she would have shared the gold coin news with the Diaper Gang? 
This chapter is titled Believing in Monsters. How do you think that this title is relevant to the story? Use examples from the text in your answer. 

Chapter 14 - Lying, Stealing, No-Good Kids

Laurel and Hardy were a comedic duo famous during this era.  (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the word scowl, we can infer that Beans is feeling 
Turtle tripping and falling on her "bungy" leads the group to the treasure! 

Chapter 15 - A Dream Come True

What do you think that you would do if you found a treasure chest full of gold? 
The highlighted lines are a reference to the Great Depression.  
What type of conflict is Turtle dealing with in this section of the story? 

Chapter 16 - The Rescue Party

When the children are on the island of Key West fruit is plentiful. This small island does not contain the same bountiful trees and plants. 
What do Turtle's actions say about her character? 
Normally several boats would have been to the island, but it is not safe for boats to be on the water during big storms. 
Why do Pork Chop and Beans finally come into the shack? 
Turtle has stated that she dislikes Shirley Temple, but when she is in a scary situation it is Shirley's song that she starts singing. 

Chapter 17 - A Hollywood Ending

Why does Beans hold Turtle's hand? 
Not only does the Diaper Gang survive a hurricane on a small island, but they probably saved Uncle Vernon's life. 
A headline is the title at the top of a newspaper article. It gives the main idea of the article. What headline would you write for an article describing the Diaper Gang's ordeal? 
Turtle bought the new shoes because she wants to be like the girl who came to the island, but the shoes are not comfortable because she is now becoming a Conch. 
Aunt Minnie doesn't have to tell Turtle about the other cat. Why does she tell the truth? 
An allusion in literature is a brief reference to a person, place, or thing of historical significance. Mr. Hemingway, the writer, is alluding to Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was a famous writer of this time who was also known for his sense of adventure. 
What does it mean when the story says that Slow Poke speaks in a "hollow voice"? 
When someone "smiles a little too brightly" that means their smile is fake. It seems that Slow Poke and Mama are keeping a secret from Turtle and Archie. 

Chapter 18 - Paradise Found

Turtle says that she feels like Cinderella. Do you think this is an apt comparison? Why or why not? 
Watch this short video on the story of Cinderella and answer the question below.  (This annotation contains a video)
Did you see this plot twist coming? 
Why does Archie take the boat to Cuba? 
This is the first time Turtle has cried since she was five. She has been trying to be the strong one in the relationship with her mother, but she cannot take it anymore. 
Section 3 Quiz 
In your opinion, what was the most important event in this story and why?