Oh boy, I’ve discovered a new writer of children’s books, and not only that, I’m now a member of her critique group!
Her name is Sheila Turnage and she a delightful person as well as being an outstanding writer. She lives in Farmville, NC, and has historical ties to Washington, NC, which is affectionally known as “Little Washington,” so as not to confuse it with the capital of our country.
In Little Washington, there is a grand theater which is used for all manner of events and it is named after Sheila’s grandfather who was a big-time mover and shaker there. If you get a chance, do check it out. The town, itself, is worth the trip.
Anyway, Sheila writes mysteries that take place in “Tupelo Landing” starring Miss Moses LoBeau, with her sidekick, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III.
Moses LoBeau is known far and wide as Mo, because her foster father and savior, The Colonel, thought she was a boy when he rescued her as new born from the local river during a hurricane. So, he’d given her an apt name for a boy found in the water.
Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, was so named because his father is a big fan of Dale Earnhardt, Sr., who had just won his third racing title.
The first mystery and murder are about the death of the local curmudgeon, and Ms. Turnage neatly keeps us guessing as to who the real killers are.
Dale’s father is the prime suspect because he’s so often the culprit of bad things happening in the town.
But the books aren’t just about mysteries, they also introduce us to life in Tupelo Landing and most all 143 members of the town. And boy are there a lot of characters, including Mo’s arch enemy, Anna Celeste Simpson, a.k.a. Attila. Dale’s dog, Queen Elizabeth has a significant role in the stories.
In the hopes that one day she’ll meet her birth mother, Mo sends notes in bottles to her, calling her “Upstream Mother.” All the towns people help her in the endeavor, by dropping the bottles anytime they go upstream. Sometimes Mo gets answers but never one from her mother.
The books are Three Times Lucky (2012, ISBN: 97800-8037-3670-2) The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, (2014,) The Odds of Getting Even (2015, ISBN 978-0-8037-3961-1) The Law of Finders Keepers (2018.)
Borrow from your local library or order them from Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Group/Penguin Random House or Amazon.
Also check Ms. Turnage out on her website: http://www.sheilaturnage.com