Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

June 28, 2010

Turtle in Paradise

By Jennifer L. Holm
Era: 1935 America--Key West, Florida
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Eleven year old Turtle is as realistic as they come, so in 1935 when her mom gets a housekeeping job for a lady who doesn't like kids, she doesn't shed a tear when she is packed off to stay in Key West, Florida with her aunt and cousins whom she has never met.  At least her mama has Archie, the first man that Turtle thinks may actually stick around for awhile.  Turtle has never seen the likes of the keys before--it is hot, no one wears shoes, everyone speaks a bit of Spanish, and everyone seems to be dirt poor.  Stuck with 3 boy cousins, Turtle learns the ins and outs of the Diaper Gang--a babysitting business the boys run to earn candy.  Turtle cannot see why everyone always goes on about how great it is to have a lot of family--there seems to be far too many members of her family in Key West; practically everyone she meets is related to her somehow.  But there are plenty of surprises for a girl who doesn't like Shirley Temple--like getting to go out on the sponge-hunting boat with captain Slow Poke and meeting her long lost and ornery grandmother, Nana Philly.  And it is at her grandmother's house that she finds a secret long hidden, a secret that could potentially lead to fame and riches.  But does Turtle dare to share it with her cousins?  By turns heartbreaking and funny, readers will enjoy learning about Key West in the 1930's and about the misadventures of a girl named Turtle and will be sorry to see the book come to an end.

June 23, 2010

This Means War!

By Ellen Wittlinger
Era: 1962 United States/Cold War
Rating: 4 stars

Juliet has been best friends all her life with Lowell, the boy across the alley.  But suddenly now that they are in 5th grade, Lowell is being friends with the Lambert twins and acting like girls--even Juliet--are a disease.  Juliet is hurt, and to add to that, her family's grocery store isn't doing all that well, what with the new supermarket moving into town.  Then Juliet meets Patsy, a new girl whose family has just moved to town like many others to work at the local air force base.  Patsy is brave and outgoing and Juliet thinks that maybe she has found a new best friend.  But tension is in the air when it is announced that Cuba is holding missiles for Russia--missles that could hit the United States and blow it up any old time.  As the nation teeters on the brink of war, everyone is worried.  But when the boys, including neighborhood bully Bruce, claim that girls can't do everything boys can, Patsy issues a challenge.  The girls and boys will have their own personal set of cnotests to prove who is better.   Juliet isn't so sure about this new "war," but goes along with it.  But as the contests escalate, maybe a real war isn't any more dangerous than what the kids are doing.  Can Juliet end this war before it is too late?  A very interesting read set during the Cold War that will make its readers think as they enjoy it.