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Grade 6–9—This third story about the middle school investigative reporter and his coeditor, Jennifer, is a topical, timely, and totally entertaining read. With the Harris Elementary/Middle School paper, the Slash, recently banned as a school-sponsored publication thanks to a powerful local family, the pair look for other ways to keep it afloat. To this end, they enlist the support of the Ameche brothers, two precocious, streetsmart, and wisecracking entrepreneurs who sell enough ads to launch a privately funded print run and to build an accompanying Web site. Unfortunately, just as the coeditors and their staff begin unearthing juicy scandals—a state testing scam, a class presidential candidate trading votes for free music downloads, and a local bicycle-robbery ring—it becomes plain that the Ameche brothers, while great salesmen, need to be brought up to speed in terms of understanding "the wall" that separates commerce from ethical journalism. Ultimately, it is Ma Ameche, a prizewinning tomato grower and flea-market portrait artist—and one of a small but significant cast of sympathetic adult figures—who both helps instruct her errant sons and tries to keep the Slash viable. The novel is packed with memorable characters, breezy laughs, a bit of romance, and heart-tugging quandaries that deftly point up the real-life matters that have turned genuine, honest journalism into an endangered species.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI END
Michael Winerip is the author of two previous novels about Adam Canfield. A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist for the NEW YORK TIMES, he lives in Lido Beach, New York.