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Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage


Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage is the story of a young girl named Mo who is growing up in a small southern town in North Carolina. Mo LoBeau was found by the Colonel as a newborn baby floating down the river in a hurricane, and her adventures didn't stop there! Mo and her best friend Dale fancy themselves detectives and when the tiny town of Tupelo Landing experiences an unsolved mystery, they are on the case! Readers of all ages will enjoy this hilarious and heartwarming whodunnit!

Student Activities for Three Times Lucky



Three Times Lucky Summary

Three Times Lucky is the story of rising 6th grader Moses "Mo" LoBeau as she grows up in the tiny town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, population 148! Mo is raised by The Colonel and Miss Lana, who own the town's Cafe where all the residents come to eat and gossip. Mo's best friend is Dale and the two make a dynamic duo.

 Mo was found by The Colonel as a newborn baby, floating down the river in a hurricane. The Colonel and Miss Lana adopted Mo as their own. Despite having a loving home with the Colonel and Miss Lana, Mo has always been curious about her birth mother, whom she calls her "Upstream Mother". She has penned Upstream Mother letters in journals ever since she learned to write and is now on volume 6. Mo also asks everyone new that she meets if they know about a baby lost in a hurricane. She keeps track of their answers on a pegboard map in her room, marking all the places where her mother isn't. Mo also sends Upstream Mother messages in bottles hoping to one day find her. The townsfolk help Mo in her quest, always asking around if they go out of town. The kindly old woman "Grandmother Miss Lacy" offers to throw Mo's bottles in the river when she can.

One day, Mo is minding the Cafe with Dale, making the customers peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with Mountain Dew soda. Miss Lana had just gone out of town to see her cousin Gideon in Charleston and the Colonel was sleeping in as he had gotten in late. During the lunch rush the townsfolk are surprised to see a new face walk into the Cafe. His name is Detective Joe Starr and he os investigating a murder!

Joe Starr's arrival piqued everyone's curiosity, but the town was further shocked when the cantankerous old Mr. Jesse, Mo's neighbor, is found murdered, too! Dale had "borrowed" his boat and he becomes a prime suspect until Detective Starr and his Deputy Marla rule him out as a possibility. Mo and Dale decide to help out with the investigation and form the Desperado Detectives. Detective Starr and Deputy Marla also look for clues and ask questions of all the townsfolk. One particular clue seems suspicious: why did Mr. Jesse give the local church $100 every week when he never even attended? Where did he get all that money when he never seemed to have much at all?

Mo is used to her adoptive parents taking "3 day rule" breaks from each other. Miss Lana likes to go and visit her cousin while the Colonel likes to go camping and hunting and sleep under the stars. The Colonel is on a break when he calls home to check in, but sounds strange. He calls Mo her proper name, "Moses", which he never uses. Mo and Miss Lana are suspicious. Then, one day Mo arrives home to find the house turned upside down and Miss Lana gone! The detectives learn that a bank robber named Robert Slate has kidnapped Miss Lana and the Colonel for ransom and is probably Mr. Jesse's murderer! Worried about Miss Lana, Mo stays with Dale and his mother, Miss Rose. Dale's older brother Lavender, who Mo is "not so secretly" in love with, also tries to comfort her.

Deputy Marla is asleep at Dale's house when the Colonel calls and tells Mo that he escaped Slate but Miss Lana is still captive! He tells Mo to find a file in his closet and not to trust anyone! Mo and Dale retrieve the file but find Marla following them with a gun pointed! Mo and Dale outsmart Marla and make it back to Miss Rose's as a hurricane rages. Dale's abusive father, Mr. Macon, shows up at his house. He has been helping Robert Slate but just before things get violent, the Colonel arrives and they tie up Mr. Macon. The Colonel, Dale, and Mo drive through the hurricane to Mr. Jesse's house in search of Miss Lana.

Mo, Dale, and the Colonel capture Slate and find Miss Lana. The money Slate and Marla were looking for was under Mr. Jesse's house! The Colonel, who has had amnesia since he found Mo as a baby, reads the file to discover that he was once Slate's lawyer which is why Slate thought he had the money. The Colonel had gotten the murderous Slate a light sentence which explains why he had always hated lawyers and lawmen, as he had subconsciously felt guilty about it ever since. Mr. Jesse had been secretly hiding Slate's stolen money all these years and was donating to the church out of guilt.

With the murder and kidnapping solved and the hurricane over, the townsfolk of Tupelo Landing begin to get things back to normal. Mo, the Colonel, and Miss Lana fix and reopen the Cafe with the help of their friends. Miss Rose divorces the mean Mr. Macon and starts her own business. While the mystery of her Upstream Mother is still unsolved, Mo realizes she's Three Times Lucky to already have a big loving family in Tupelo Landing!


Essential Questions for Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

  1. Who are the main characters in Three Times Lucky and what challenges do they face?
  2. What are some of the themes present in the novel and what lessons does the author try to impart to the reader?
  3. What are some of the symbols and motifs present in the novel? How does the symbolism help you better understand the characters and their motivations?
  4. How does Mo change and grow throughout her journey?
  5. Why does Mo consider herself "Three Times Lucky"?
  6. What are some different examples of "family" in the book?

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