Joan Bauer, Author
Joan Bauer, Author . Putnam $16.99 (248p) ISBN 978-0-399-23475-0
Reviewed on: 04/28/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008

Bauer's (Hope Was Here ) fans will appreciate this diverting novel's shout-out to the author's debut, Squashed , from which she also harvests a few themes. In an upstate New York hamlet known for its apples, aspiring teen journalist Hildy Biddle treasures her staff position on the high school paper, aptly named The Core . She does whatever it takes to find the facts for a story, hoping she is honoring the memory of her late father, a respected local reporter. But when the opportunistic publisher of the town paper whips the citizens into a frenzy with sensational stories of ghosts and eerie happenings, Hildy and her friends are determined to expose the truth—which involves a disreputable development company. With sharp pacing and an intriguing premise, Bauer renders a fully realized portrait of a small town dependent on an ever-fragile agricultural economy and threatened by modern encroachment. As always, she stocks her work with strong, sage women, the elements for a budding romance and plenty of funny moments. But it's Hildy readers will remember longest, a smart girl who realistically blends the spunkiness, brains and good humor that is Bauer's stock-in-trade. Ages 12–up. (May)

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