Things don’t usually come to a screeching halt at the RAT, also known as Ridgewood Arts & Technical School, Ridgewood City’s most prestigious progressive institution. But that’s what happens when Headmistress Hardaway interrupts class and announces, “A scandal has rocked the fundraising committee!” Everyone is a suspect and Hunter Jackson, student council special investigator, vows to root out the student who’s heartless enough to steal donation money. He’s not alone. Ridgewood Roar news editor, Anthony Ravello, and the rogue, indie-press pioneer, Liberty Lennon, plan to do some journalistic digging of their own in a race against each other to scoop the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to their faithful readers…or at least their versions of it. With the truth getting murkier by the day, students at the RAT gobble up news bytes and wash them down with locker-side gossip as they try to unmask the classmate responsible for the missing funds.
This upper middle grade story is told from three different perspectives. Using student newspaper articles. recordings, and other narratives the mystery of who stole the $1000 unfolds.
On the left is Tony who is a news editor for the school’s newspaper, the Ridgewood Roar. Liberty takes the opposing spot. She has started her own underground newspaper (The Rebel Yell) with help from her grandpa. Tony and Liberty don’t get along and are critical of each other’s reporting skills.
The third perspective is from Hunter who plays detective for the student council in trying to figure out the case. His view comes in the form of memos where he details what he has learned from potential witnesses and suspects
Most public middle schools these days don’t have newspapers, leaving the journalism path to high school. But this is the prestigious gifted school and it seems a natural fit. The often humorous narrative takes you right back to 8th grade with behind the back gossip and accusations. Yes, middle school is a unique beast we must all experience and it was fun seeing it depicted at Ridgeview Arts and Technical.
The story is mostly about the happenings at the school, with details about each main character’s family and home life in the background. A few scenes of heartfelt support provided by the family members were a welcome inclusion.
BREAKING NEWS is best for middle schoolers, especially those interested in journalism. For us adults, it’s an enjoyable and fast pace read sure to dig up memories of your own teen age years.
PAGE COUNT: 176
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
FRANK MORELLI is the author of the young adult novels ON THE WAY TO BIRDLAND (2021) and NO SAD SONGS (2018), a YALSA Quick Picks nominee and winner of an American Fiction Award for best coming-of-age novel. His latest middle grade novel, BREAKING NEWS, is set to release on April 28, 2022.
A Philadelphia native, Morelli now lives in High Point, NC with his best friend and muse, their obnoxious alley cats, and two hundred pounds worth of dog. Connect with him on Twitter @frankmoewriter and IG @frankmorelliauthor.