Saturday, September 15, 2012

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Glory, glory! I got 16 boxes of new books and am tearing through them like my shirttails are on fire. I took that from the word wizard, Sheila Turnage. She slaps great sentences together like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sprinkle in heavy doses of humor, kooky characters, seriousness, and a mystery set in the south and you have some delicious crepes or craps as eleven-year-old Mo's best friend, Dale, calls them. Another favorite line I have is Mo describing how she is herbicidal, "I've killed every plant I ever met, starting with my lima bean sprouts in kindergarten." Me too, Mo.I even came close to killing the dog with a poisonous plant that I accidentally planted in her kennel.

Wave a checkered race flag when you start this book because it will suck you in from the start with the teaser about Mr. Jesse turning up dead, to the hint that things are not well with Dale's family, to Mo explaining that the closest thing she has to family is the Colonel and Miss Lana who run the town's cafe. Except Lana has skipped town and the Colonel is missing so it isn't clear what's going on with their relationship. Mo is a sassy southern gal who was found as a baby by the Colonel in a hurricane strapped to a piece of floating wood. Mo says things I wish I had the guts to say. No one in the town resembles "normal" but they care and support each other in an endearing way.

Dale and Mo had planned to go fishing but with the Colonel missing, Mo has to open the town's cafe. Dale says he has a boat and Mo asks him if he stole it. "'I wouldn't say stole;,' he said. 'But I did borrow it pretty strong.'" She's quick on her feet as well as quick with the mouth as we meet the other characters in the town as they come for food at the cafe. When the first customer comments that she's grown she says, "I'm standing on a Pepsi crate, Mr. Jesse. I ain't grown that much since yesterday. You want to order? I got other customers to think about." Except no one else is in the cafe.

The humor takes the edge off the serious parts where we discover Dale's dad is an abusive drunk and people get hurt in a kidnapping scheme that has gone awry. Oh yes, there's a murder too! This well-written book has plenty of action, odd yet lovable characters, a tinge of romance, and an unpredictable mystery. The only part I didn't quite get was why Lana didn't reveal to the Colonel his true identity. Ah well. It doesn't take away from the story so I really don't care. This would be a great read aloud. My newest favorite book. Dig in.

Reading Level 4.5
5 out of 5 Smileys

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