Great Illustrated Books

Three Times Lucky

By Sheila Turnage

Penguin / Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012
Pages : 324
Suggested Ages: 8 and Up
ISBN: 9780803736702

There’s plenty of buzz at the café when Tupelo Landing has its very first murder: Who would kill Mr. Jesse? Recounted in Mo’s colorful voice and with plot twists galore, the story gathers speed like a hurricane.

Mo (Moses) floated into Tupelo Landing as an infant, carried by hurricane flood waters.  Luckily, the Colonel found her. The only problem: he was an out-of-towner, too, who lost his memory during the storm. With an unclaimed baby, one suitcase (rumored to be full of cash) and no other plans that he could remember, the Colonel was taken in by Miss Lana. The threesome has made an odd family since then. Now, the murder and another hurricane will bring the past to light.

Each development is strategically placed to point suspicion elsewhere and deepen the mystery: Why do the police think that a bank-robbery many years ago in Winston-Salem is connected to events in Tupelo Landing? Why had stingy Mr. Jesse been secretly  donating money to the church? Why has the Colonel gone AWOL? Why has someone kidnapped Miss Lana?

Spunky Mo narrates, exhibiting a storyteller’s knack for descriptions, asides, and perhaps some small exaggerations. The setting and the cast of larger-than-life characters are so warmly represented, readers are apt to want to move to Tupelo Landing – or at least join the residents at the café for a Mountain Dew. With help from her best friend Dale, Mo does her own detective work to save the only family she’s ever known. And she’s had plenty of experience, what with all she’s done to try to find her “Upstream Mother.” With another storm brewing, Mo has to move fast. The author keeps track of  many strands and does not disappoint when the truth is laid bare. Mo is reminded that she is, indeed, lucky. So are the children who get to read this book for the first time – they’ll gulp this down faster than a cold Mountain Dew on a hot summer day.

Reviewed by : JMcD.


If you love this book, then try:

Foley, Elizabeth. Remarkable. Dial, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0803737068.

Moulton, Erin. Tracing Stars. Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0399256967

Mullaly Hunt, Linda. One for the Murphys. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0399256158.

Palacio, R. J. Wonder. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0375869020.

Pennypacker, Sara. Summer of the Gypsy Moths. Balzer + Bray, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0061964206.

Potter, Ellen. The Humming Room. Feiwel & Friends, 2012. ISBN-13: 9780312644383.

Scattergood, Augusta. Glory Be. Scholastic Press, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0545331807.

Standiford, Natalie. The Secret Tree. Scholastic Press, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0545334792.

Stead, Rebecca. Liar & Spy. Wendy Lamb Books, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0385737432.

Critics have said

"What do you get when you combine Because of Winn-Dixie's heart with the mystery and action of Holes ?...a wickedly awesome tale of an 11-year-old girl with more spirit and gumption than folks twice her age. Mo LoBeau is destined to become a standout character in children's fiction."
Kirkus Reviews

"Turnage's lively novel features a distinctive voice and a community of idiosyncratic characters."

"Here is a writer who has never met a metaphor or simile she couldn't put to good use. Miss Lana's voice is 'the color of sunlight in maple syrup,' while '[r]umors swirl around the Colonel like ink around an octopus.' But it's Mo's wry humor that makes this first novel completely memorable."

"Quick-thinking and precocious Mo LoBeau is hilarious in this modern-day mystery...this book will leave readers hoping for more books about Mo and her gang."
School Library Journal

"A vivid, multilayered story which will appeal to both skilled and reluctant readers of either gender. Elements of mystery, romance, secret identities, and long-unspoken small-town secrets blend into a literary stew that becomes compulsively readable as so many tales alternately unravel and combine."