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Full of Beans was not what I expected. Key West in the mid-1930’s is not yet the pastel-colored tourist haven we know and love – instead it is a dirty, depressed area on the brink of collapse. Beans and his brother Kermit are kids living amongst the squalor as their parents try to scrape together enough cash to feed and clothe them. The first half of the book read almost like an unconnected collection of short stories, but the real plot kicks in about halfway through when Beans tries to earn some extra income for his family by doing some dirty work for an unsavory businessman. That’s when we learn more about Beans as a character, about Key West as his home, and about the real message that Jennifer L. Holm wanted to share with Full of Beans. The sister novel to Turtle in Paradise, readers will enjoy the connection (and a quick cameo of a familiar character). Solid historical fiction for the younger grades.
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