Full of Beans

Full of Beans

by Jennifer L. Holm
     
 

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Newbery Honor Book Turtle in Paradise is beloved by readers, and now they can return to this wonderful world through the eyes of Turtle’s cousin Beans.
 
Grown-ups lie. That’s one truth Beans knows for sure. He and his gang know how to spot a whopper a mile away, because they are the savviest bunch of barefoot conchs

Overview

Newbery Honor Book Turtle in Paradise is beloved by readers, and now they can return to this wonderful world through the eyes of Turtle’s cousin Beans.
 
Grown-ups lie. That’s one truth Beans knows for sure. He and his gang know how to spot a whopper a mile away, because they are the savviest bunch of barefoot conchs (that means “locals”) in all of Key West. Not that Beans really minds; it’s 1934, the middle of the Great Depression. With no jobs on the island, and no money anywhere, who can really blame the grown-ups for telling a few tales? Besides, Beans isn’t anyone’s fool. In fact, he has plans. Big plans. And the consequences might surprise even Beans himself.

Praise:

“As a storyteller, Holm is superb.”— School Library Journal

“Holm impressively wraps pathos with comedy.”— Booklist

“Anyone interested in learning to write crowd-pleasing historical fiction for elementary school readers would be wise to study Holm’s work.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Sweet, funny and superb.”— Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 05/16/2016
In this excellent prequel to the Newbery Honor–winning Turtle in Paradise, Holm recounts the origins of the Diaper Gang, the group of barefoot boys who have the run of Key West during the Great Depression. Their unofficial leader, Beans, narrates the arrival of the New Dealers who attempt to transform the poverty-stricken island into a tourist destination. Through Beans’s eyes, Holm captures the population’s economic distress (“Our town looked like a tired black-and-white movie”), with his father heading north to look for work, his mother’s hands “red and raw” from doing the neighbors’ laundry, and the ubiquitous “conch chowder.” To help his family, Beans ventures into a life of crime, setting false fire alarms to create diversions for Cuban rum smuggler Johnny Cakes; dire repercussions motivate him to make amends, igniting his latent leadership skills to the town’s benefit. Period details—like keeping Sears and Roebuck catalogues handy in outhouses, “marble mania,” people with leprosy hidden by their families, and the Shirley Temple craze—make for entertaining and illuminating historical fiction. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
06/01/2016
Gr 4–6—Beans Curry and his family are down on their luck. Their whole town of Key West is; it's the Great Depression, and jobs and opportunities are scarce. Beans learned at an early age that adults lie to children, and he goes on to apply that logic to the New Deal stranger who shows up in town one day, claiming the government sent him to make their dumpy town a tourist destination. Sure that the man is a lunatic, Beans ignores him as he tries to find ways to make money for his family, and sometimes even for himself. Beans evolves as a character when he realizes the role he played in a tragedy. In an effort to make up for it, he spearheads his gang into helping the New Dealers make tourism successful in Key West. Those who have read Holm's Turtle in Paradise may remember Beans as Turtle's cousin. However, familiarity with the companion book isn't necessary to enjoy this new novel, which is told in a series of vignettes that build on one another, some humorous and others poignant. The book's younger characters have an "Our Gang" feel to them, with adult characters playing decidedly backseat roles. Holm peppers the characters' vocabularies with phrases and slang from the time, which may take some getting used to. The most surprising thing about the work is that it is based on real history. Holm weaves a charming combination of old family stories into the history of the New Deal's Key West experiment, including further information about the history of the project at the end of the book. VERDICT Young readers will enjoy this heartwarming, humorous introduction to a challenging time in American history.—Juliet Morefield, Multnomah County Library, OR
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-05-14
A prequel to a beloved novel reveals more about a boy who's full of mischief, heart, and conscience.Beans Curry, first cousin of the title character in Holm's Newbery Honor book Turtle in Paradise (2010), gets his own wonderful story, also set in Key West during the Great Depression. While Beans' tongue here is not quite as acerbic as in the earlier book—he's still plenty quick with the gibes, though—he's got smarts, a loyal gang, marble skills, an enterprising head for business, a love for movies, and a way with babies (don't forget the secret diaper-rash formula). A crooked con man and a New Dealer sent from Washington to refurbish the town to attract tourism galvanize Beans into actions, though of different kinds. In the first instance, criminal doings earning him big money leave Beans heartsick and guilt-ridden; in the other, he atones by getting caught up in beautification zeal. In a charming touch, Holm ends this tale with a snippet of an opening scene in Turtle, melding the two novels seamlessly. Holm effortlessly evokes time and place (two very prominent writers who actually spent time in Key West in the '30s are named) and develops characters with loads of heart and grit. Hilarity and pathos ensue with friends and family, too. Only a subplot involving Beans and a reclusive adult film enthusiast afflicted with leprosy feels tacked on. Characters are white, appropriate to the demographics of the time. Filled with humor, heart, and warmth; readers can only hope to hear more about the Curry clan. (author's note with photographs, list of 1930s child actors, popular sayings, gang rules, and websites) (Historical fiction. 9-12)
From the Publisher
“Inspired by actual events, Holm’s talent for writing historical fiction is on full display…Interesting family and small-town dynamics further enrich this fascinating account of a young boy’s life in Florida’s ‘Recovery Key.’” —Booklist starred review 

"Filled with humor, heart, and warmth; readers can only hope to hear more about the Curry clan." —Kirkus Review starred review 

"Period details—like keeping Sears and Roebuck catalogues handy in outhouses, “marble mania,” people with leprosy hidden by their families, and the Shirley Temple craze—make for entertaining and illuminating historical fiction."—Publishers Weekly starred review

"Multifaceted supporting characters—an intrepid group of friends (all with nicknames such as Pork Chop and Too Bad), a fussy baby brother, a pushy girl nemesis, a mean grandmother, a Key West resident afflicted with leprosy—are all seen through Bean’s refreshingly honest eyes and create a novel as entertaining as the motion pictures he loves to see."—The Horn Book Magazine starred review

"Holm, who has family ties to Key West, captures this colorful slice of Depression history with her usual vivacious wit and colorful expressions..." —Shelf Awareness, starred review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553510362
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
08/30/2016
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
53,833
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
490L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

JENNIFER L. HOLM is the New York Times bestselling author of The Fourteenth Goldfish and three Newbery Honor Books, as well as the co-creator of the Babymouse and Squish series, which she collaborates on with her brother Matthew Holm.

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