|Three Times Lucky|
by Sheila Turnage
"Newbery honor winner, New York Times bestseller, Edgar Award Finalist, and E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor book.
A hilarious Southern debut with the kind of characters you meet once in a lifetime
Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.
Full of wisdom, humor, and grit, this timeless yarn will melt the heart of even the sternest Yankee."
It is no secret that the 2013 Newbery Selection Committee and I didn't see eye to eye. The One and Only Ivan wins and Wonder doesn't even get an Honor? Seriously?! However, they did get it right (well, sort of... this definitely should have won over The One and Only Ivan !) with Three Times Lucky . Oh, how I loved this book! The beginning made me want to go out and rent the movie Fried Green Tomatoes . It just has that pure southern feeling to it, and the main character's foster-parents own a café. And then there's a murder. I fully expected some special barbeque to start cooking out back :) .
Miss Moses Lobeau - rising sixth grader - and her best friend Dale Earnhardt Johnson III (no, his daddy and granddaddy aren't named that too, the III stands for Dale Earnhardt's car number) set out to solve the murder of a crotchety neighbor by forming the "Desparado Detective Agency". Their attempts are hilarious, yet actually quite helpful. One of my favorite quotes from the book is Mo talking to the fancy detective from the city:
“They found Mr. Jesse in a boat?" I asked. "I'm wondering if maybe he just up and died. Maybe there ain't no murder. Like the fish weren't biting and he died of boredom. It happens. Boredom kills. I've had close brushes myself, during math.”
I love Mo's voice and laughed out loud over and over again while reading some of her comments. But let's not leave out Dale. What a great supporting character! We learn more about him from Mo's observances than anything. Two of my favorites:
1. Dale can choose not to worry like he chooses not to wear socks.
2. He peeked around the door. "You through barfing?"
Dale can't tolerate other people throwing up. He gets what's known as the Synchronized Heaves. Lavender says if they ever make it an Olympic sport, Dale's an automatic for the gold.
And yes, Lavender is the name of Dale's older brother, who Mo plans on dating in 7 years when she is 18. Her observances on the different girls Lavender dates are also well worth reading.
This is a book I could read over and over again. It is full of quirky characters, down-home southern wisdom, exciting events, and laugh out loud humor. A great children's book should be able to be enjoyed by children and adults, and Three Times Lucky is great!
Areas of concern:
*The murder of a character well known to the reader and the characters.
*It is mentioned that Dale started swearing last year. I haven't started yet, but the way things are going, I could at any moment.
*The relationship between the foster-parents is a little unusual, but is explained (not fully) towards the end of the book.
*There is a scary scene where a husband threatens and hits his wife with 2 children watching and in danger as well.
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 10+
School Library Journal - Grades 4-7