256 p. Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, May, 2012. 9780803736702. (Purchased for school library collection.)
Eleven-year-old Moses "Mo" LoBeau is so looking forward to summer vacation. That is until the Colonel blows in and Miss Lana storms out, leaving Mo to open the diner instead of fishing with her best bud, Dale. So, at the crack of dawn, she heads over to Dale's window to wake him up and give him the news.
On Sunday morning, after reading three pages of this darling book, I posted this to my FB page: "Uh-oh, bye-bye chores. Intriguing first line, in love on page 2 with, "Dale started swearing last year. I haven't started yet, but the way things are going, I could at any moment."
Head-over-heels on page 3, "You aren't having nightmares again, are you, baby?"
"It's worse than that, Mamma," he said gravely. "Mo's here." from Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage."
I did manage to tear myself away from the book and accomplish my chores. I settled down in the late afternoon to read again. Two-thirds of the way through, I began dog-earring (yes, dog-earring!) (I haven't done this much dog-earring since reading Okay for Now) my library's uncataloged copy of the book and posting quotes intermittently to FB. I tried not to swallow it whole. I really did but I was totally sucked into Mo's world and, when it was over, did not want to leave. (Indeed, it kind of ruined my book-a-day as my mind keeps wandering back to Mo and the 148 residents of Tupelo Landing.) My husband was quite amused by my giggles, snorts and chortles all afternoon and evening. From time to time, I would read the scene which caused the snorts and chortles aloud.
The story is lovely. I adore Mo LoBeau in a way that I haven't since meeting Tugs Button of The Luck of the Buttons. The setting is vivid. I want to visit Tupelo Landing, eat at the diner (I haven't had WonderBread since I was a kid), and explore the attached house. I want to touch the Elvis nightlight and dig in Miss Lana's closet. The cast of supporting characters is large and, while quirky, not annoyingly so. And Dale. Oh Dale, what a sweet, dear boy. Dale and Mo are best friends in the deepest sense. No chance of a possible future romance here as Mo has already decided that she's marrying Lavender, Dale's nineteen-year-old brother.
I know authors don't write with language arts teachers in mind. Indeed, some might cringe at the thought of their story being ruined by any analysis. But this one begs to be read aloud to middle grade students and used as a stunning example of voice and multiple literary devices for older students. I emailed the entire language arts department at my school plus colleagues from my last school and others about this must-read/ must-purchase.
Waking Brain Cells
Bookyurt (love the name, found this one in a google search for reviews)
Librarians of Snark