Children’s book buyer Hannah Johnson-Breimeier of Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon, Wis., highlights a new middle grade novel that’s doing well at her store.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Dial, May) is our favorite handsell right now. The protagonist, sixth grader Mo LoBeau, has one of the best voices I’ve read in a long time. She’s very confident and comfortable with who she is, and even speaks in her own little dialect. Above all, Turnage has written a really good story. There are lots of children’s books out there that are either boring or so focused on adventure that the craft is ignored. This book keeps you wanting to turn the pages.
I love recommending it to girls who just want a “normal” story. I think Three Times Lucky will appeal to them, but it’s a little unusual, too. It’s set in a small town in the south, Mo has an untraditional family, and there’s a mystery. She’s not just whining about middle school; she’s spending her summer setting up a detective agency. She reminds me of an older, more modern-day Ramona, someone who’s always getting into trouble because she thinks it’s a good idea.
At least three other booksellers on staff here have read it and loved it, and it’s been on our hardcover children’s bestseller list for a while now. We’ve been selling as many copies to adults as we have to kids – many people appreciate the short length, and there’s nothing objectionable in it, so we can say, “Your daughter will like this book, and you’ll like it, too.” And the cover is great – that always helps.
If there are booksellers who haven’t read it yet, they should – because I learned from [Turnage’s] editor at BEA that there’s going to be a second one. Thank goodness! That’s the first piece of news I shared with everyone when I got back.