Three Times Lucky
Recommended grades 5-8. “Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt.” With these evocative words, Sheila Turnage begins her narrative set in rustic, rural North Carolina. Tupelo Landing, population 150, bursts at the seams with colorful characters- namely Turnage’s heroine, the plucky Mo Lobeau (think Harper Lee’s Scout meets Phillip Pullman’s Lyra).
Orphaned Mo works at the local cafe with her family-of-choice and her best friend, fellow rising sixth-grader, Dale. Mo’s quest to solve the mystery of her biological family is interrupted when a murder shakes the citizens of tiny Tupelo Landing. Fortunately, or suspiciously, lawman detective Joe Starr has just arrived in town investigating another murder nearby. Starr starts off on the wrong foot with Mo’s guardian, the Colonel, a man of mystery in his own right- a mystery that might link him to the crime or to Mo’s mysterious parentage. Determined to clear the Colonel of suspicion, Mo and Dale set up their own investigation into the murders at increasingly great risk to them and their families.
Turnage’s elegantly descriptive language draws the reader into the story bringing life and unique voices to each character. Vivid narrative offers depth and sets the quick pace of the novel without feeling frantic. This is a great choice for fans of mystery and realistic fiction. Outstanding first purchase for any middle-grade library and recommended for struggling and reluctant readers.
Turnage, S. (2012). Three times lucky. Dial Books for Young Readers : New York.