TIMES LUCKY, by Sheila Turnage, was recently nominated for
an Edgar Award and received a Newbery Honor as well. It's
funny and sweet, with larger-than-life characters and a
mystery that builds in intensity as the novel progresses.
Eleven years ago, Mo LoBeau washed downriver during a hurricane, and into the arms of the Colonel, a man with no memory of his past. Together with Miss Lana, a woman with a dramatic flair and a penchant for wearing wigs, the three of them run Tupelo Landing's only diner. When Mr. Jesse turns up dead, and Joe Starr comes to town to investigate a decades old robbery and murder, Mo and her best friend Dale create Desperado Detectives to get at the truth.
Mo is a feisty, smart, and very human character, always a few steps ahead of the adults around her, but she remains vulnerable and likable, even when she speaks her mind. Which she does--often. Sheila Turnage has endowed the town of Tupelo Landing with a plethora of interesting, and for the most part caring, adults who form a vibrant community.
The narrative is executed so seamlessly, I have trouble seeing how the author pieced it together, each scene building on the ones before with little, if any, extraneous information to distract readers.
It's one of my favorite mid-grade reads in quite a long time.