The Renegade Reporters

Elissa Brent Weissman. Dial, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593-32303-8
Alternately comedic and dense, this story of sixth-grade muckrakers serves up lessons on internet privacy that are both practical and heavy-handed. Before the book begins, Baltimore City best friends Ashley Simon-Hockheimer, who is Jewish, and Maya Joshi-Zachariah, who has implied South Asian heritage, lose their prized positions as school news lead anchor and videographer, respectively, after they film a gym teacher without her consent and the clip goes viral. The advisor replaces them with inexperienced students—including Harry E. Levin, who is half-Chinese and “the only other Jewish sixth grader at John Dos Passos Elementary.” Calling themselves “underground” reporters due to their home basement studio, Ash and Maya compete with Harry for scoops, reporting on a stolen bike and doggie-doo malfeasance. Things turn serious, however, when the girls suspect that their school’s educational software provider is selling student data, and their investigation serves as pretext for weighty lessons on personal security. Weissman develops the rivalry and lunchroom shenanigans well against a Baltimore backdrop with recognizable local details. If a few sensational plot twists require some suspension of disbelief, the triumphant conclusion makes a solid case for kids’ digital literacy. Back matter features an author’s note. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 08/04/2021
Release date: 08/10/2021
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-593-32304-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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