Five Starred Reviews
A New York Public Library Best Book for Kids, 2016 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. Read more...
Five Starred Reviews
A New York Public Library Best Book for Kids, 2016 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. Return to the wonderful world of Newbery Honor Book Turtle in Paradise through the eyes of Turtle's cousin Beans "A surprising coming-of-age story with a remarkably honest message." --The New York Times " Holm] captures this colorful slice of Depression history with her usual vivacious wit. . . . Children will love Beans." --Shelf Awareness, Starred "A novel as entertaining as the motion pictures Beans] loves to see."--The Horn Book Magazine, Starred
"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 "Filled with humor, heart, and warmth." --Kirkus Review, Starred "Entertaining and illuminating historical fiction." --Publishers Weekly, Starred
- ISBN-13: 9780553510362
- ISBN-10: 0553510363
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: August 2016
- Page Count: 208
- Reading Level: Ages 8-12
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.75 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-16
- Reviewer: Staff
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.)
Growing up as Florida recovers
BookPage Children's Top Pick, September 2016
After Jennifer L. Holm’s son read her Newbery Honor-winning novel Turtle in Paradise, he asked his mom to write about Turtle’s cousin Beans. The result is a fast-paced prequel, Full of Beans, set in Key West, Florida. It’s hard to believe, but during the Great Depression, the bankrupt, stinking city was too poor to pay for garbage collection.
Enterprising, observant Beans Curry is sifting through rubbish, collecting condensed-milk cans for a seedy cafe owner, when he spots a newcomer who seems to be walking around in his underwear (actually Bermuda shorts, which Beans has never seen before). In a novel overflowing with historical details, this man is the real-life Julius Stone, sent from Roosevelt’s Federal Emergency Relief Administration to spruce up the island city and turn it into a tourist destination.
At first Beans doubts both the man’s sanity and mission. What’s more, he’s preoccupied with his own worries as his unemployed father heads to New Jersey in search of work. Beans’ ongoing moneymaking efforts end up backfiring, and his angst intensifies when Stone confesses that the federal government may find it cheaper to simply abandon Key West and relocate its residents than try to save it.
Inspired by her ancestors (Holm’s great-grandmother moved to Key West in the late 1800s), the author seamlessly weaves Beans’ story with local color (sea turtles caught for stew meat, Cuban cooking, wooden houses threatened by fire) and Depression-era history.
Full of Beans’ extensive cast features Beans’ brothers and lively pals, who eventually find their calling as the Diaper Gang, as well as brief appearances by Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost. Like Turtle, Beans is a spunky character with a feisty voice. A movie lover who dreams of Hollywood fame, he is a memorable tour guide who offers a fascinating glimpse into how Key West became a vibrant vacation and cultural mecca.