Monday, September 25, 2017

MMGM: Three Times Lucky

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

Book #1 in the Mo and Dale mysteries
Three Times Lucky

Written by Sheila Turnage
Illustrated by Gilbert Ford
Penguin Random House, 2012
Ages 10+, Lexile 560L
320 pp, 62000 words


Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt. Almost before the dust had settled, Mr. Jesse turned up dead and life in Tupelo Landing turned upside down.

Reasons to love this book
  • Stunning cover art
  • Intriguing title
  • Map of Tupelo Landing
  • Curious character names (girls: Moses, Skeeter; boys: Lavender, the Colonel)
  • Absorbing voice ("Dale swore, his voice soft as a breeze through the reeds. Dale started swearing last year. I haven't started yet, but the way things are going, I could at any moment.")
  • Immediate dilemma (Not just the opening paragraph, but the constant questions which come to the readers mind by page three.)
If you're not hooked by the writing on page two, read on to page ten. Forgive my cheek, but if you're still not riveted, call me a liar and move on to another book, or better yet to the television, because you don't have an ear for fabulous storytelling. 

1. Middle Grade Mafia posted fabulous Q & A sessions with Sheila Turnage and Gilbert Ford. You can view another author interview on KidsReads. Plus everything you ever wanted to know about cover illustrator Gilbert Ford on the All The Wonders podcast.

2. For previous MMGM reviews of Three Times Lucky, see the GeoLibrarian, Night Writer, Michelle Mason, and Shannon Messenger reviews.

3. Follow Mo's further adventures in The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing and The Odds of Getting Even.

Book #2, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
Book #3, The Odds of Getting Even

4. Looking for books with a similar vibe? I highly recommend anything by Sarah Weeks particularly Pie or So B. It. Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead also has the same startling voice and mysterious elements. Find MMGM reviews for Liar & Spy on Always in the MiddleSo I'm Fifty, and blogs by Michelle Mason and Melanie Conklin. Also give Green Glass House, by Kate Milford  a try. Reviews by Dead Houseplants, Reading Nook, and Completely Full Bookshelf.

Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for September 25, 2017 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Feel free to leave your MG recommendations in the comments. Thanks!


  1. I loved this one and your review has me thinking I should read it again. Have a great week!

    1. I wish there was more time to reread all the best books! Thanks.

  2. What a great opening for a story. It certainly draws you in to want to read more.

    1. The following paragraphs flash back but in the most natural and compelling way. Give it a try. Thanks.

  3. Looks like these books have great a great setting and atmosphere.

    1. The writing is great. Turnage has it all together. Thanks.

  4. That opening paragraph is riveting. Thanks for this post.

    1. It is a great hook, but I think the following pages are even more compelling. Thanks.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!