Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter

Beth Fantaskey. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-544-58249-1
The intrepid star of Fantaskey’s (Buzz Kill) first foray into middle grade fiction is a newsie, hawking the Tribune in Prohibition-era Chicago. However, Isabel dreams of writing for the paper, rather than selling it on street corners. As in the musical Chicago, part of the story is set on the Cook County Jail’s infamous “Murderess Row,” where Isabel’s favorite customer—a pretty Marshall Field’s clerk, Colette Giddings—awaits trial for the murder of her gangster boyfriend. Determined to clear Miss Giddings’s name, Isabel, 10, befriends the Trib’s lead reporter, Maude Collier, who—like Isabel—is the lone woman in a male-dominated field. The outcome is never in doubt, but short chapters (most just two or three pages) and lots of action will easily keep readers’ attention. Isabel is a highly sympathetic character whose father died in WWI and whose single mother desperately needs the pennies her daughter contributes from her daily tips. It’s a story chockfull of colorful historical information with a heroine who is impetuous, flawed, and very easy to root for. Ages 10–12. Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 03/01/2016
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-544-78766-7
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-544-93696-6
Prebound-Glued - 352 pages - 978-0-606-39809-1
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