Books for Younguns, Young Adults and the Young-at-Heart

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: Three Times Lucky

For the holidays, I'll be reviewing a book or series a day from December 1st through 24th.

Today's book is Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, one of our holiday picks for middle grade readers.

Moses "Mo" LoBeau has grown up in the small town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, although she wasn't born there.  She doesn't know where she was born.  All she knows is she was found as an infant floating down the river after a hurricane and now she lives with an amnesiac Colonel and the delightfully dotty Miss Lana, the owners of the town cafe.  Mo spends her time writing to her Upstream Mother (both in her journal and in message she puts in bottles and gives to people headed north to drop in the river) and fishing with her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III.  That is, until the day Tupelo Landing is visited by a detective investigating a murder.  Then Mo and Dale decide the natives are the only ones who can solve this small-town crime.

Here is yet another book where the plot is solid enough, but the real attraction is the writing.  This story is narrated by new sixth-grader Mo, and she brings the Southern charm.  Mo is smart and funny and feisty when she needs to be (and she finds a lot of need).  The character could easily become too cutesy, but the dark aspects of the book (Mo's missing mother, Dale's abusive father, and, you know, murder) balance out the presentation nicely.  In less sensitive hands, those real-world dangers could become too scary or heavy, but Mo's matter-of-fact, down-to-business style tempers that risk.  Saavy readers may solve some of the mystery before Mo and Dale, but I doubt they'll figure out all of it.  Besides, this isn't really a whodunnit at heart.  It's a story about a girl and her love for her family, friends and town.

This book is recommended for those who like some sass to their heroines, fans of a twisty plot, and anyone longing for Southern small-town comfort.

Three Times Lucky is published by Dial and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I read an Advance Readers Copy from the publisher.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

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