Thursday, June 16

Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter

Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter
Beth Fantaskey

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-0544582491
Publisher: HMH Books
Date of publication: March 1, 2016
Age: Grades 4 - 7
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Themes: murder, newspapers, 1920s Chicago, gangsters, friendship, gender stereotypes

It's 1920's Chicago, the guns-and-gangster era of Al Capone—and not only is ten-year-old Isabel Feeney selling the Tribune on the street corner, she wants to be behind the scenes reporting for it. It's her dream to be just like the famous Maude Collier, front page journalist and top crime reporter. She can't believe her luck when she stumbles not only into a real-live murder scene, but also into her journalist hero. But when it's a loyal customer that's landed in jail as the top suspect, Isabel—smart, curious, loyal, and full of spunk—fights to defend the honor of her accused friend.

A thoroughly enticing representation of a nitty-gritty era! It is an excellent historical piece, touching on the effects of the Prohibition, the Great War, women in the work place, influenza & polio, and the news media. And of course, the regular headline of gangsters and murder, which makes the book particularly exciting. A full range of characters, with their own motives and ideas, fit well in the time period and are believable.

However, it was not my favorite. While the cast of characters on a whole was appreciable, Isabel herself became rather annoying. Which is unfortunate when the whole book is told from her perspective; the writing was repetitive and a tad immature. And every. single. shock. in the story line marked the end of a chapter. Like a chapter had to end with a cliffhanger. Yes, it drives the story, but for such a long book, the effect starts to wear off after a while. I admit, I started to roll my eyes every time it happened.

In the end, I can see kids really enjoying it. And I wouldn't mind recommending it, since it will satisfy their need for excitement and I'd be glad they'd be getting a good, historical piece. But I'm still not the biggest fan.

Good readalike for Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko (who also does Al Capone Does My Shirts) or really any strong-female-lead-in-a-historical-fiction.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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