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‘Three Times Lucky’ is a Southern mystery for kids

Three Times Lucky

by Sheila Turnage, for kids 10 and up.

Imagine being washed ashore in a hurricane as a baby and never knowing who your mother was.

That’s just what happened to Mo LoBeau, who as the book starts has just finished fifth grade and is ready to enjoy a wonderful summer in the fictional town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, with her adoptive family, the Colonel and Miss Lana, and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III. (In case you haven’t figured this out yet, the names of the characters hint at the real joy in this book — very similar to the way they did in “Because of Winn-Dixie.”)

But Mo and Dale’s plans for summer fun get derailed by wild events. Author Sheila Turnage told us she loved the summer when she was a child, but “it would be hard to have a summer as exciting as Mo’s! In ‘Three Times Lucky,’ Mo’s summer includes a murder, a kidnapping, a car crash, a search for her long-lost mother. That’s hard to beat!”

Author Sheila Turnage says, “Summer feels like magic.” (RODNEY L. BEASLEY)

Turnage remembers books being a huge part of her childhood summers.

“I grew up on a farm in eastern North Carolina, where it’s super hot in summer — often too hot to go outside and play in early afternoon. So I’d settle in with library books.

“And occasionally a bookmobile showed up loaded with books! I loved the bookmobile! It was like an ice cream truck, only with books inside. Delicious!”

Readers are likely to find Mo’s story pretty delicious, too — and funny and exciting.

When Dale and Mo decide to be detectives for the summer, they, of course, must come up with a name for their detective agency, which prompts them to post this sign:

Desperado Detectives.

Murders Solved Cheap.

Lost Pets Found For Free.

Turnage told us that even as an adult, summer reading is very special. “In summer I feel like a little kid again, climbing the steps into the bookmobile to see what treats wait inside,” she said. “So in summer I say read what excites you! Read something fun!”

May we suggest “Three Times Lucky”?

— Tracy Grant

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