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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Three Times Lucky, written by Sheila Turnage. Puffin Books, Penguin. 2012. $8.99 ages 10 and up

"Right," he said, his voice going sullen. "Like we can out-detective Joe Starr. That's nuts, Mo. I'm doomed." "It's not nuts, and you're not doomed. You're desperate, is all. And it's like Miss Lana says: Desperation is the mother of invention." He looked at me, his face thoughtful. "Who's the daddy?" If Dale ever starts thinking in a straight line, he'll be a genius."

I could fill this post with some of my favorite passages throughout this fascinating and very funny novel. I highlighted many! I did it so that I can go back to savor the language all over again, and as often as I would like. I know that if I chose to share them all it would do nothing to deter your reading. The quotes would more likely be an enticement to get a copy and get right to it.

You need to know Mo LoBeau and her many friends who live and thrive in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. You will not soon forget them, and you may even find yourself wishing that you lived there, too. It's been eleven years since Mo arrived, strapped to a raft in the river during a hurricane. Her rescue came at the hands of the 'Colonel' who has no recollection of the events that led to him being there just when Mo needed rescuing. Lucky? Mo certainly thinks so...

"Some say I was born unlucky that night. Not me. I say
I was born three times lucky.
Lucky once when my Upstream Mother tied me to a
makeshift raft and sent me swirling downstream to
safety. Lucky twice when the Colonel crashed his car and
stumbled to the creek just in time to snatch me from the
flood. Lucky three times when Miss Lana took me in like
I was her own, and kept me."

Mo often sends bottles with messages to her 'Upstream Mother' on the chance that she might discover her roots. She also keeps top secret chronicles that outline the events of her life, and include letters to her mother. Somebody must surely be missing the  little girl who got away.

When a detective from out of town comes looking to find the killer of one of Miss Lana's café customers, Mo cannot keep suppress her curiosity and her need to investigate the circumstances that led to Mr. Jesse's death. There's mystery afoot and Mo means to be in the middle of it, and she wants her best friend Dale right at her side. The clues are there, Mo is ready and she takes her detective work very seriously. In fact, she leads the people in town in the quest to determine what has happened to lead to Mr. Jesse's death.

The cast of characters is exceptional, written with humor and warmth. Mo steals the show. Her voice is resolutely original, filled with so much wit and charm that you wish she would step out of the book so you could give her a BIG hug!

Here are just a few lines:

"I won't say out patrons are an ugly lot, but at 6:30 a.m.. they ain't pretty."

"Dale gets his green thumb from Miss Rose. I, personally, am practically
herbicidal. I've killed every plant I ever met, starting with my lima bean
sprout in kindergarten."

"The lunch crowd is the breakfast crowd shaved and combed."

"Already I didn't  like him.
Didn't like the starch in his shirt, or the crease in his
pants. Didn't like the hook of his nose, or the plane of his
cheekbones. Didn't like the skinny of his hips, or the shine
of his shoes. Mostly, I didn't like the way he didn't smile."

At this point, we have read to page 13.

I could go on and on. But, I promised that I would not do that, I think. I do want to share just one more of Mo's revelations:

 "Maybe there ain't no murder. Like the  fish weren't biting
and he died of boredom. It happens. Boredom kills. I've had
close brushes myself, during math."

Thankfully, after a twenty-eight year lull in writing novels, Sheila Turnage has 'turned' her attention to a story that is sure to be shared in families and classrooms where brilliant writing is honored. If you can read this book and not immediately want to share it, it will be a big surprise to me. I can't wait to shout it from the rooftops. It almost makes me wish that I were going back to school next month. I can imagine the joy of reading it, and talking about it, and savoring it all over again!

1 comment:

  1. I could not agree more with your comments.
    I could not put this book down. For some reason I could
    envision it as a stage play, the writing was so compelling.
    Certainly worthy of a Newbery nod.