• 50°

Author, school help students unravel mysteries of sixth grade and writing

LANDIS — More than 200 local fifth-graders spent Thursday morning unraveling the mysteries of sixth grade during a preview at Corriher-Lipe Middle School.

“Our theme started out as mysteries, but we’ve converted it to, ‘Middle school is not a mystery,’” media center coordinator Cheryl Lang said.

The students hailed from Corriher-Lipe’s feeder elementary schools: Landis, Enochville and Millbridge.

Corriher-Lipe Principal Justin James said he hoped that seeing the school and becoming more familiar with middle school would help get the fifth-graders excited about next year.

“I think it’s cool to see the kids that will be here next year,” he said. “I hope they’re excited; I hope they’re not scared about coming here next year.”

The future Yellow Jackets moved in groups through the halls, getting a building tour, attending a pep rally, choosing learning sessions and, as a special surprise, meeting an award-winning author.

Over the past five years, Sheila Turnage has become famous for her children’s mystery novels. “Three Times Lucky,” published in 2012, is the first in a series that takes place in the fictional North Carolina town of Tupelo Landing.

“Population 148 — minus one for murder,” Turnage said, describing the setting.

The book landed Turnage on the New York Times bestseller list, earned a Newbery Honor award, came in as a finalist for the Edgar Awards and was a finalist for the E.B. White Read-Aloud award.

The story follows Moses “Mo” LoBeau, a curious and strong-willed rising six-grader, as she works with her best friend to solve both the identity of a murderer and that of her long-absent mother.

Turnage called the story a “double mystery”: “A mystery of the intellect and a mystery of the heart.”

“The book is about a small town that to me is a lot like Landis,” Lang said. “It’s a very North Carolina story.”

Corriher-Lipe had hosted Turnage before and decided to bring the author back after “Three Times Lucky” was put on the Elementary Battle of the Books list. Each fifth-grader who visited Thursday was given a copy of the novel.

Turnage spent time talking about the book, her writing routine and mysteries. When asked what they like about mystery stories, students said trying to figure out the ending, that they never know what will happen next, and that the stories are suspenseful and interesting.

But for Turnage, “Three Times Lucky” began with Mo, the book’s narrator. Turnage said she could hear Mo telling the story so clearly in her imagination that she just had to write it.

“That’s one way the imagination works,” she said.

She also explained how she pulled some details from her own life and added them to the book. A hurricane that sweeps Mo away as an infant is based on one that Turnage lived through several years ago on the coast.

The town of Tupelo Landing pulls details from Turnage’s own life in and around Farmville, in eastern North Carolina. And some of the many characters that color the town contain bits and pieces of people she’s met throughout her life.

“When you’re a writer, you take things that have happened in real life and turn it into fiction,” she said.

She decided to base her book in North Carolina for similar reasons.

“I like to write about North Carolina because that’s where I’m from, and I think we’re worth writing about,” she said.

Her life, she told students, is an example that “you don’t have to live somewhere fancy to be a writer.”

“It really doesn’t matter where you live. … If you listen to your imagination and if you are fearless in following your imagination, it is never too late to get started,” she said.

“Three Times Lucky” is followed by another book about Mo and Tupelo Landing, “The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing.” The latest book in the series, “The Law of Finders Keepers,” will be released in September.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

Comments

Local

Ask Us: When will Rowan Public Library’s West Branch open?

Nation/World

Prosecution case nears end in ex-cop’s trial in Floyd death

Nation/World

Officer accused of force in stop of Black Army officer fired

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with hitting man with car, fleeing while intoxicated

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native

Education

RSS administration will recommend selling Faith Elementary property to charter school

Business

Inspired by advice from father-in-law, Angela Mills launches her own business in memory of him

Local

Rowan County Democrats re-elect leaders, pass resolutions

Local

Baseball: Memories come alive in Ferebee book

Local

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, professionals reflect on detecting abuse in a virtual world

Business

Biz Roundup: Small Business Center announces spring slate of workshop for business owners

Clubs

Kiwanis Pancake Festival starts Friday

Local

Rowan fire marshal seeks to clear up confusion, worry caused by solicitation letter

Education

Fun every day: Fifth anniversary for Yadkin Path Montessori School

Nation/World

Charles: Royal family ‘deeply grateful’ for support for Philip

News

North Carolina sites to resume J&J vaccines after CDC review

News

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Playoff time means get ready for ‘big-boy football’

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama