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Three Times Lucky

Review

Three Times Lucky

Mo Lobeau considers herself three times lucky: her biological mother tied her to a makeshift raft during a hurricane; the Colonel happened to crash nearby the river she floated down and found her; and Miss Lana decided to take her in like she was her own. Although she has made a home with the Colonel and Miss Lana, this doesn't stop her quest to find her Upstream Mother. She is on the sixth volume of her autobiography in which she tries to piece together the story of her life before coming to Tupelo Landing and has members of this small town drop messages in bottles further upstream so they  travel down the river. 

"Sheila Turnage writes a lyrical and heartwarming story that will please children and adults alike. THREE TIMES LUCKY is laugh-out-loud funny, and its hilarity lies in the details."

Now it's summer. When Mo and her best friend, Dale, aren't helping out at the cafe serving up Miss Lana's specials, they are helping Lavender, Dale's older brother, fix up his race car and "borrowing" a grumpy neighbor's boat for fishing. But soon a stranger shows up in Tupelo Landing, asking about a murder in Winston-Salem. His name is Detective Starr and he isn't especially welcome. Real trouble comes when Mr. Jesse, that same cranky neighbor, is found dead in the boat that Dale returned. That's right. Murder has arrived to this small North Carolinian town.

Dale and the Colonel quickly become suspects to the murder, but who is Mo to trust? Certainly, Dale is innocent --- he was just returning the boat! Detective Starr links this murder with the one he was originally investigating but also to a bank robbery that happened eleven years earlier. The Colonel couldn't be involved, could he? Mo and Dale decide to take matters into their own hands by forming the Desperado Detective Agency to prove who is actually guilty of killing Mr. Jesse. But things get even more out of control when the Colonel goes missing, Miss Lana is kidnapped and a doosey of a hurricane is headed their way. 

Sheila Turnage writes a lyrical and heartwarming story that will please children and adults alike. THREE TIMES LUCKY is laugh-out-loud funny, and its hilarity lies in the details: Miss Lana enjoys creating theme nights for their cafe that are silly enough for kids to appreciate, but the themes nights also uses references that are recognizable to adults. Similarly, this small town is filled with larger-than-life personalities, which makes the story seem light and fanciful, while it is also filled with tough issues to tackle. The plot is driven by a murder investigation, Dale's father is abusive and the reader witnesses him hitting his wife, and Mo faces the real fear that Miss Lana’s life is on the line, while her biological mother remains unknown. 

I thoroughly enjoyed THREE TIMES LUCKY because Turnage created characters I came to care about quite deeply. Mo is a spunky and willful protagonist who I wish I could have been like as a 6th grader. She takes charge with her logical reasoning and karate skills, fearless in the face of dangers far greater than she may realize. In fact, this book would be a great discussion starter for some serious issues.

Reviewed by Liz Kossnar on October 24, 2012

Three Times Lucky
by Sheila Turnage

  • Publication Date: December 31, 2013
  • Genres: Children's, Fiction, Mythology
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • ISBN-10: 0142426059
  • ISBN-13: 9780142426050