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Three Times Lucky
by Sheila Turnage
Sixth grader Mo (Moses) Lebeau is a sleuth by nature—she’s been searching for her birth mother, the woman who tied her to a billboard post when she was an infant during a hurricane, by launching messages in a bottle addressed to her "Upstream Mother." It’s a good thing she’s a super-sleuth too, because Mo’s skills come in handy when her neighbor is found murdered, and it’s Mo Lebeau on the case, (with the assistance of big-city detective Jo Starr that is)!
While the murder mystery in the story is enough to keep readers hooked, it isn’t the mystery alone that will keep the pages turning in this charming story. Mo’s voice is so unique, so touching, and so hilarious that it’s simply fun to follow along to see what laugh-out-loud phrase or idea she’s going to come up with next, and yet— she’s still plenty intelligent. Her voice and her actions display a special spirit and a sensitivity that is beyond her years, especially when it comes to her best friend Dean and the pain he endures at the hands of his alcoholic father. And Mo alone isn’t the only exceptional character—each character in the story is quirky, interesting, and with just the right amount of Southern flavor. Take the Colonel and Miss Lana, Mo’s adoptive parents, and Miss Rose, Dean’s mother who despite their eccentricity, or perhaps because of it, illustrate that blood doesn’t make family, and it does indeed take a whole community to raise a child. Readers who enjoyed Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool and Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos will gobble up this tale and beg for more tales of Mo. And in my humble opinion, this one may be a contender for the Newberry folks!