BookPage Top Pick in Children's Books, February 2014

On the heels of solving her first mystery in the Newbery Honor book Three Times Lucky, Mo LoBeau faces more intrigue in her tiny North Carolina town of Tupelo Landing. Just when her adoptive kin buy the old Tupelo Inn, now abandoned and rumored to be haunted, her sixth-grade teacher assigns an oral history report to coincide with the community’s 250th anniversary. Extra credit goes to the student who can interview the town’s oldest member, so Mo decides to interview the ghost of the Tupelo Inn because “[t]here ain’t nobody older than dead.”

Helping Mo form the Desperado Detective Agency’s new Paranormal Division is her steadfast partner and classmate, Dale. As the sleuthing duo employs various methods of communicating with Tupelo’s mystifying resident, they discover that the ghost is a girl who may have been murdered, and that some of Tupelo’s finest—and not-so-finest—may know forgotten clues. As if solving another murder mystery weren’t enough to keep Mo busy, the town’s crotchety moonshiner complicates matters throughout.

As in Sheila Turnage’s debut novel, relationships are key in this Southern story: Mo and Dale’s sibling-like camaraderie; the budding romance of Mo’s adoptive parents, Miss Lana and the Colonel (now that the Colonel’s amnesia has cleared); and the ghost girl’s attraction to newcomer Harm, who eerily resembles his long-lost moonshining grandfather. Mo’s continuing letters to her unknown “Upstream Mother” help her sort out clues in the case—and in life. Small-town charm, clever dialogue and Mo’s unyielding wit are excellent reminders of why the first book was so successful. With The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, readers will fall in love with Mo and her endearing friends and family all over again.

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