Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm (2016)

Look here, Mac. I’m gonna give it to you straight: grown-ups lie.
Sure, they like to say that kids make things up and that we don’t tell the truth. But they’re the lying liars (p 1).

FullofBeansIn this wholly satisfying companion to her Newbery honor award winning Turtle in Paradise, Holm’s returns to Key West, Florida during the Depression era. Set in July 1934, a year prior to Turtle, Beans, member of the famous Diaper Gang, narrates the story.

In a letter to the reader preceding the advance reader copy I picked up at BEA, Jenni explains this novel was inspired by her son’s questions after he read Turtle in Paradise. “How did the Diaper Gang get started? Was Johnny Cakes really a rumrunner? How did they come up with the secret diaper-rash formula? Most of all, he wanted to know more about Turtle’s sharp-tongued cousin Beans.”

The revelations are a delight.

Beans is an entrepreneur. In a town where jobs are hard to come by and money is scarce, Beans will dig through garbage to make a dime. When he’s ‘Winkied’ (cheated) by his buyer Winky, the “lyingest liar of them all” (p 2), and his father leaves for New Jersey in search of work, Beans decides it is time to find another, more lucrative trade.

Enter Johnny Cakes and a whole lot of adventure. From girl versus boy rivalry in the marble game to Roosevelt’s New Dealers pumping money into relief and recovery for Key West, a lot is happening in the lanes of Key West and Beans is a (young) man about town.

Funny and charming. Highly recommended.

Haven’t read Turtle in Paradise? Do!

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