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The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

Review

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

Shelia Turnage has followed up her Newbery Honor book THREE TIMES LUCKY with THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING, which features the same eclectic characters and wacky small town. The story is told through the eyes of the main character, Miss Moses “Mo” LoBeau. Mo is dealing with the heightened expectations of being a 6th grader as well as managing the work of the Desperado Detective Agency, which she formed with her best friend Dale Earnhardt Johnson III (the inseparable duo solved a murder and a kidnapping in THREE TIMES LUCKY). Their newest case involves another potential murder, but the victim died long ago and now haunts the Tupelo Inn.

The Tupelo Inn and its resident ghost are shoved into the spotlight when the Inn, and all of its contents, are put up for auction. In her well-meaning way, Miss Lana, one of Mo’s guardians, unintentionally buys the Inn. Grandmother Miss Lacy Thornton steps in to help Miss Lana financially and professionally, but if they can’t figure out a way to make the Inn profitable, both will go down with it. As Mo and Dale spend more time at the Inn during its renovation, they discover proof of the ghost and eventually befriend her. Mo, who is always looking for both a mystery to solve and extra credit in school, decides that she and Dale will make the ghost the subject of their history interview, which is a significant portion of their history grade. However, how are they going to discover who the ghost is, and, more importantly, how will they interview her? Along the way, they stumble upon more town mysteries and secrets. Can they solve the case, interview the ghost and pass history?

Turnage has also mastered the integration of unique descriptions and unusual phrases; these often made me stop to laugh out loud, reread or simply appreciate the perfect word play. 

Turnage has a gift for creating weird but relatable characters who have flaws and quirks just like real people. This shone through in THREE TIMES LUCKY and she brings the same considerable skill to THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING. Mo is a strong and spunky female character who will likely appeal to readers of all ages and genders. Dale’s personality is given more room to develop in THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING and in addition to his loyalty to Mo, he is revealed to be a sensitive soul and a creative problem solver in his own right.

Turnage has also mastered the integration of unique descriptions and unusual phrases; these often made me stop to laugh out loud, reread or simply appreciate the perfect word play. For example, at the beginning of Chapter 19, an old couch is described as “the color of tired baloney” (pg. 163). Dale is often the source of strange phrases, such as, “You two got ghost noses…like ghost eyes, only with nostrils” (pg. 290). Mo has come to understand and appreciate Dale’s expressions, as will readers.

Having read THREE TIMES LUCKY, I was excited to return to Tupelo Landing and to visit with Mo, Dale and all the others again. Those who haven’t read THREE TIMES LUCKY will have no problem jumping right in with THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING, as it can stand alone. While I enjoyed my return visit, I feel like THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING starts to fall apart a bit in its storyline. The conflict, which is hundreds of pages in the making, is quickly and neatly solved, and as such it feels like a rushed and inauthentic ending to this latest visit to Tupelo Landing. 

Reviewed by Aimee Rogers on February 10, 2014

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
by Sheila Turnage

  • Publication Date: February 4, 2014
  • Genres: Children's, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
  • ISBN-10: 0803736711
  • ISBN-13: 9780803736719