Turtle in Paradise: The Graphic Novel

Random/Graphic. May 2021. 256p. adapted by & illus. by ­Savanna Ganucheau. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780593126318; pap. $11.99. ISBN 9780593126301.
Gr 3-8–Don’t feel too sorry for Turtle. She might be resentful and fearful about being sent to live with her aunt and cousins while her mother takes a job that doesn’t allow kids, but, as it turns out, the dusty, sun-drenched Florida Keys are just the place to ride out the Great Depression, especially once she teams up with her rascally cousin Beans and his pals, the Diaper Gang (so named for their babysitting prowess). Holm’s classic summer novel, full of pranks, peril, mystery, and discovery, gets a beautiful graphic novel treatment that if anything improves upon the original. Turtle’s smart, irritable, fully rounded personality puts her in the same class as New Kid’s Jordan Banks and My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich’s Ebony-Grace Norfleet. Readers will enjoy tagging along with Turtle as she gets to know her mother’s family, explores the wonders of the Keys, and becomes part of the fabric of the town. Gorgeous flora and period architecture establish a firm sense of place, while scenes that take place on the water are awash in turquoise blue. A bleached-pastel palette, confident linework, and manga-influenced exaggerated expressions lend scenes of unfamiliar historical activities like dragging babies around in a wagon a contemporary quality. Turtle and her family are white.
VERDICT Adventure, friendship, and unforgettable characters make for a perfect tale. This graphic novel adaptation will sit comfortably on the shelf alongside books by Faith Erin Hicks, Jen Wang, and Victoria Jamieson.

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