Study Guide

Turtle in Paradise Youth

By Jennifer L. Holm

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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. (1.1)

The very first sentences of the book warn us about kids. They're not the sweet, innocent little lambs everyone thinks they are—nope, they are mean, lying, sniveling brats, according to Turtle.

"You ever take care of good babies?" I ask.

"Ain't no such thing," he declares. Kermit grins. "That's why we're always in business." (3.67-68)

Leave it to the Diaper Gang to trash talk babies. It's not that they hate them, but they've spent enough time around babies to know that they are not good news. This just proves Turtle's point: All kids are rotten.

Kids in the funny pages sure lead thrilling lives. Little Orphan Annie and her dog, Sandy, are always having all sorts of adventures, and then there's Terry Lee from Terry and the Pirates. He sails to the Far East with his pal Pat, looking for a lost gold mine. There's nothing thrilling happening on Curry Lane as far as I can tell. (5.1)

Perhaps this is why kids are always lying—to create their own adventures. In the movies and comic books, kids seem smart and exciting, but Turtle reminds us again and again that real life is nothing like the movies. Real kids aren't any of those things.

Kids lie. We have to or we'd never get anything. But grown-ups lie, too—they just do it differently. They leave things out; they don't give you the whole story. (6.1)

As bad as kids are, Turtle also admits that adults can be just as bad. Let's compare: Lying? Check. Stealing? Check. Murder? Check. Maybe it's not kids, but all humans, then, that Turtle really has beef with.

"She hates kids most of all," Buddy exclaims. "She washed my mouth out with soap!" (8.78)

Nana Philly and her granddaughter have more in common than Turtle thinks. They both hate kids and Shirley Temple movies. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I guess this is why they warn you about picking up babies. If he stayed quiet like this, I wouldn't ever want to put him down. (9.74)

For the first time, Turtle gets why someone might want a baby. We know she still doesn't love them, but at least she understands how tender they can be, especially when they go from screaming to silent whenever you pick them up.

I'm not sure, but I think my grandmother might like me a little, too, even though I am a kid. She really listens to me when I talk, which is more than I can say for most grown-ups. (13.13)

Imagine that: a grandma liking her granddaughter. It seems rather obvious, but for Nana Philly, it's not. Turtle's comment reminds us that she's just a kid, too, trying to figure out how to behave and what to do in life. Hmmm… does that mean she lies and steals, too?

It's a fact: if a kid is being nice, he's probably up to no good. I guarantee you some kid was behind the Titanic sinking. He probably offered to steer the ship so the captain could get a cup of tea. (14.1)

Turtle talks so much smack-talk about kids that we're not sure whether to believe her or not. Sure loads of kids are sneaky and only act nice to get away with something, but what about when she gives Nana Philly her lunch every day? She's not expecting anything in return and she's not up to no good.

What is it with boys and fighting? I'm amazed any of them get to be grown-ups the way they're always going at it. (16.24)

Pork Chop makes a bonehead move by forgetting to drop the anchor, and Beans won't let him forget it. Turtle notices how often the boys—who claim to be best buds—get into it with each other. She thinks it's so immature, but then again, they are kids.

It's probably the only time in history a bunch of lying, stealing, no-good kids actually saved someone's life. The hurricane makes headlines, but so do we. (17.46)

Saving someone is a big task for a kid, especially if Turtle has anything to say about it. She's so anti-kids that we can hear her surprise in her statement… and that she includes herself in the group of "lying, stealing, no-good" people.

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