Friday, August 31, 2012


Three Times LuckyMo LoBeau has a pretty great life in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, population 148.  After being born in a hurricane and separated from her mother during the flooding, she is discovered by the Colonel, who takes in the baby and raises her with the help of his lady-friend, Miss Lana.  Her quirky adoptive family run the town café, where Mo is in the center of all that happens in Tupelo Landing.  Though she loves the Colonel and Miss Lana, Mo never stops trying to find the truth about her past. With the fifth grade school year over, Mo expects to spend a normal summer working in the café, battling her archenemy, Anna Celeste, searching for her Upstream Mother, and hanging out with her best friend Dale.  Everything changes though when Detective Joe Starr drives into town.

Starr has come from Winston-Salem in search of a murderer.  Within 24 hours of his arrival, the town curmudgeon, Mr. Jesse, is murdered.  Soon after, Dale is considered a suspect, the Colonel goes missing, and Miss Lana is kidnapped.  Oh, and a hurricane, both literal and metaphorical, hits the town once again.  Mo doesn't know if she can trust the police.  She and Dale form the Desperado Detective Agency to get to the bottom of the mystery and save her family.

Shelia Turnage's debut novel combines murder, a bank robbery, amnesia, alcoholism, and kidnapping with a heaping dose of humor, no small feat.  This multi-layered story offers a well-developed plot, a rich setting, and memorable characters.  You might never find a rising sixth grader like Mo LoBeau, but that doesn't stop you from loving her hilarious personality.  What's most impressive about this novel is Turnage's ability build suspense to an exciting climax, which resolves in a manner that respects her young readers' intelligence.  There is no heavy moralizing in this story, just wit and charm that will have you waiting for Turnage's next story.

4 out of 5 stars
Recommended for grades 4-6
Excellent read aloud

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