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The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

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Kirkus Reviews

With heaps of Southern charm and the homespun humor of a favorite uncle, Turnage presents the spirited follow-up to her Newbery Honor debut, Three Times Lucky (2012).

Just as its predecessor did, this sequel shines thanks to Turnage’s deft, lyrical language and engaging characters. Mo LoBeau and her Desperado Detective Agency cohort, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, are sixth graders now. When a purportedly haunted historic inn goes on auction and Mo’s guardian, Miss Lana, wins the bid, Mo is determined to use her detecting skills to find the ghost. Dale isn’t so sure, but Mo is a force of nature when she sets her mind. But Dale fears Mo has gone too far when, in a fit of one-upmanship with her archnemesis Anna “Attila” Celeste Simpson, Mo declares that she and Dale will do a class project on the town’s oldest citizen. Turnage crafts a laugh-out-loud scene: “It would mean extra credit,” Miss Retzyl points out. “Extra credit looms large with Dale, who specializes in the Recess Arts.... Attila flashed her braces. ‘There isn’t anyone older [than Mayor Little’s mother], Mo-ron’....My temper popped like bacon on a hot skillet. ‘There is too somebody older....Dale and me are interviewing a ghost.’ ” Naturally, Mo and Dale learn as much about growing up as they do about spirits from the great beyond.

This delightful sequel demonstrates that Tupelo Landing may be even better on a second visit. (Mystery. 10-14)

After solving a murder in their small North Carolina town over the summer, the heroes of Turnage’s Newbery Honor–winning Three Times Lucky “went famous for about a week until the gravity of habit pulled our lives back into regular orbit,” says narrator Mo LoBeau in this equally hilarious sequel. Sixth grade is starting, but who has time to worry about interviewing elderly residents for a history project to mark the town’s 250th anniversary when the dilapidated inn that Miss Lana, Mo’s guardian, just acquired at auction is obviously haunted? One mystery per book is not enough for Turnage, so there’s also buried treasure, a missing moonshine still, impending financial ruin, and strange goings-on in the woods. Not every thread is fully tied off, but the residents of Tupelo Landing are so companionable and Mo so indefatigable (and funny) that readers can only hope those loose ends mean another installment is in the works. The budding detective has clearly taken to heart something her foster mother always emphasizes: “All the world’s a stage, sugar, so hop on up there.” Ages 10–up. Agent: Melissa Jeglinski, the Knight Agency. (Feb.)


The perspicacious Mo LoBeau is at it again! This companion to Three Times Lucky (Dial, 2012) takes place only three months after the Desperado Detective Agency's first case in Tupelo Landing. Mo and her partner, Dale, are entering the sixth grade and their very first assignment is to interview a town elder. Mo's first thought is an interview with Grandmother Miss Lacy Thornton, but arch-enemy Anna Celeste Simpson (a.k.a. Attila) has dibs on her. Mo blurts out that she and Dale will interview the ghost that is purportedly haunting the inn that her guardian, Miss Lana, impulsively purchased at an auction with Grandmother Miss Lacy as her partner. The whole town is buzzing about their rash purchase so, in typical Mo fashion, the child tackles the rumors, the ghost, and a few other mysteries head-on. Humor and action abound with Mo's saucy commentaries comprising the cherry on top. The story is filled with the sixth grader's colorful, Southern-flavored friends and her equally juicy similes. Underlying all this fun are more serious themes, including an abusive father doing time, a grandfather involved in an illegal distillery, Mo's absent and unknown mother, and the stunting power of guilt and greed. All of these challenges define Mo's reality, but her unfailing pluck robs them of their sting. - Kathy Cherniavsky, Ridgefield Library, CT

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