Thursday, August 9, 2012
Happiness is...a good book (Summer Reading edition #34)
Author: Sheila Turnage
Age Range: 8-12
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: *****
First Sentence: 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.
Moses LoBeau, rising sixth-grader, was abandoned as a baby. She washed up on the shores of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina after a hurricane. Picked up by the Colonel, who also mysteriously washed into town that night with no memories of his past, they’ve been family ever since. He and Miss Lana, a stranger herself, built a café in town and have raised Mo as their own. Mo loves them dearly but she’s never given up her search for her Upstream Mother, even starting a detective agency with her best friend Dale to get the job done. But when Joe Starr, a lawman from Winston-Salem arrives in town and Mr. Jesse their neighbor ends up dead, Mo and Dale find themselves wrapped up in a real live mystery, one that will threaten their very lives.
I loved this book. Mo is spunky and endearing. I might be partial to southern characters but there’s just something about the way they can throw around quirky phrases and time worn adages that grabs me from the get go. And part of me has always wanted to live in a small town. Tupelo Landing is one of those everyone-is-always-annoyingly-in-your-business-but-will-stand-by-you-‘til-the-death kind, full of eccentric characters that add color, drama, and humor to the story. They’re all fleshed out enough to make you feel as if you know them without detracting anything from Mo’s place as the star.
The mystery is believable with just the right amount of suspense. There are a few twists and turns that kids won’t see coming and a few scenes that will have you wondering if everything will actually end up okay. A terrific story combined with fabulous characters? You’ve got yourself one great read.
And Mo has one of the best voices I’ve read in a while. Here’s a sampling:
In return, Mr. Li gives Dale and me free [karate] lessons for life. Dale hates it. I enjoy kicking others, but would do better in an art that allows spitting. (72)
I hesitated. The Colonel always says not to lie, but sometimes the truth doesn’t feel like a good fit. (19)
Sal, the smallest kid in our class, is shaped like a tube of lipstick. She wears Strategic Ruffles and curls her short brown hair to create the illusion of shape. She also possesses a calculator brain and a love for Dale that will go epic, if he ever notices. (107)
It’s too soon to really conjecture but I’d love to see this one make it all the way to the top. Highly recommended!