Oh, Daniel Pinkwater, I love you so. I would totally run away with you (in a chaste way) to go live on an island populated by reptiles. I think if anyone else tried to do what he does with his wacky plots, it would come off as contrived and trying too hard and gimmicky. Somehow his books end up great. While going from Chicago to LA on the Super Chief in the 1940s, Neddie Wentworthstein is given a small turtle by a Navajo shaman that starts him off on a series of strange adventures involving Hollywood, the film industry, a ghost bellboy, and his military school. My favorite line was when his teenage sister refused to continue touring around LA with their parents, and declared she wasn't going to keep driving around like the Grapes of Wrath. There were some of the usual nods to the rest of the Pinkwater universe, like the fat men from outer space and the game show host Eddie Eft.
Recommended: Entertaining middle reader with boy and girl appeal, and would be a good read-aloud. Excellent for fans of turtles, and 1940s era Hollywood.