Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage (2012), tells a middle-grade whodunit with the unforgettable Southern voice of a rising sixth-grader, Mo.

Mo lives with the eccentric proprietors of the town diner, Lana and the Colonel. No matter that the Colonel has amnesia and can’t remember his life before he got to the North Carolina hamlet of Tupelo Landing in a hurricane eleven years before.

Mo doesn’t know her past either– the Colonel rescued her, a baby he plucked from the flotsam and jetsam in the river in that same storm. But she yearns for her Upstream Mother , writes letters to her in her diary—and sends notes to her bobbing down North Carolina streams in bottles.

When a grumpy local turns up murdered, Mo and her friend Dale set out to solve the case. Her drawl and plucky spirit pull the reader through a page-turner story filled with unforgettable characters.  Will Mo find the murderer? Will she find her mother?

I’ll give this Newbery Honor winner five stars. * * * * *

Short Story by Phyllis Wheeler

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