- Age Range: 10 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 5 - 7
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 14, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0544936965
- ISBN-13: 978-0544936966
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter Paperback – March 14, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Chicago in the 1920s provides the setting for this fast-paced mystery. Isabel Feeney is the spunky protagonist who makes friends, young and old, while hot on the trail of a killer. Isabel sells copies of the Chicago Tribune on the city streets to supplement her single mother's salary. When Isabel hears a gun fire, she runs toward the sound to an alley where she sees Miss Giddings, the kind and pretty young lady who regularly buys newspapers from her, kneeling over a dead man. Isabel is quickly involved in the investigation and befriends Maude Collier, a famous Tribune reporter whom she admires for her reporting excellence. Isabel has always aspired to be a female crime reporter, just like Maude, and now is her chance to investigate a real crime with her writing hero. Fantaskey keeps the chapters short and snappy, with each one ending on a mini-cliff-hanger, enticing kids to read on. There are guns and gangsters, future movie stars, glamour, sibling rivalries, bullet proof cars, polio, several possible suspects, and a host of eclectic personalities. Isabel is fearless but expresses her vulnerability in her desire to have friends. The author's historical note explains the inspiration for the novel: five real-life female reporters who wrote for the Chicago Tribune in the 1920s. VERDICT A not-to-be-missed novel for middle graders looking for a satisfying mystery with a daring female heroine.—Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
—Booklist STARRED Review
"A not-to-be-missed novel for middle graders looking for a satisfying mystery with a daring female heroine."
—School Library Journal
"Fast-moving, short chapters are narrated by the sassy Isabel, whose speech ("Jeez, what kind of bee was in his bonnet?") captures the flavor of the era."
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Top customer reviews
At the same time, enters Maude Collier, the woman reporter of the Chicago Tribune. Because Isabel is so enterprising and intelligent, Maude becomes a mentor of sorts to Isabel.
. Isabel wants to be a newspaper reporter, and this is her time to shine. Though Isabel is only ten, in the 1920's where everyone needs to do something to keep body and soul together, Isabel becomes a novice dodged reporter. There are courtroom scenes, Isabel befriends Miss Giddings son and Maude's daughter, and off they go.
I read this book with my grandson who is ten, we both enjoyed it a great deal. This was an excellent time for me to educate him about the roaring 20's. He is already very knowledgable about women's place in society, and he is very pro feminism. We both came from the same starting point, and he pointed out to me what a role model Isabel was to children her age. This is important for our children/grandchildren to learn about the past and how repressed women have been. Not to stuff it down their throats, but to discuss if the subject comes up.
I liked everything about this book, and I do hope it becomes a series.
Recommended. prisrob 02-21-16
Highlighting the economic turmoil preceding the Great Depression, young Isabel Feeney has quit school in order to work. She helps her mother support them by selling newspapers on a Chicago street corner. Her real ambition is to become a reporter like Maude Collier, one of the few female reporters not assigned to society or gardening topics. One evening, Isabel sees one of her favorite customers, Colette Giddings arguing with small-time mobster Charles “Bull” Bessemer and then hears a gunshot. Running to investigate, she discovers Miss Giddings kneeling next to Bessemer’s body. Believing Miss Giddings to be innocent, Isabel inserts herself into the police investigation. She also aligns herself with Maude Collier who is writing about the crime for the “Chicago Tribune”. As her investigation continues, she befriends Miss Gidding’s son Robert and Bessemer’s daughter Flora, an aspiring actress. Through their discussions and her own investigation of the crime scene, Isabel makes some surprising discoveries that will reveal, in a courtroom scene reminiscent of “Perry Mason”, the murderer.
Adding to the authenticity of the novel’s setting, “Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter” incorporates elements of the period in which it is set. The limited employment opportunities for women play a role in the story. Relegated to typically pink-collar jobs, Isabel’s mother cleans offices and Miss Giddings is a salesclerk at Marshall Fields; her sister is studying to become a secretary. Maude Collier’s occupation as a news reporter is unusual. Isabel asks one woman, “…How come men go out all over the city and women get stuck answering telephones …It’s just … the way it’s done …”
References to consumer products, common to an earlier era – Vicks VapoRub, Wonder Bread, and Beeman’s Chewing Gum – to news-making individuals, Leopold and Loeb – and to popular film stars, Rudolph Valentino in “The Shiek” – may be unfamiliar to young readers.
Characters are engaging. Isabel is a persistent, intelligent protagonist who follows her instincts and uses her abilities to reach a goal. Because of her age and the other characters’ involvement with Isabel, this could be the start of a series of “Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter” books.
Beth Fantaskey has done an outstanding job of writing a mystery novel for the target group – readers, ages 8 – 12 years old. This is a story that will appeal to both girls and boys. Language and situations are appropriate for all readers; violence is not particularly graphic and is not gratuitous. Conversations reminded me of those heard in Jimmy Cagney movies. Red herrings prevent the reader from immediately guessing the identity of the murderer, but are not so obtuse that young readers will be discouraged should they not solve the mystery before Isabel does. Chapters are very short; the novel is easy to read.
If you are seeking an excellent mystery novel for your younger reader, I definitely recommend “Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter”. It is both interesting and fun to read.
The short chapters are fairly informative and keep the pace of the book quick, good considering this middle grade book is just over 300 pages. Sometimes Fantaskey keeps things a little too simple, but I suppose that's okay since the target age group needs the encouragement of reading into the clues rather than the challenge all the way through. The story is a bit idealistic, but the characters are interesting and have some depth, even when they're mostly absent. A fairly good middle grade mystery that can be enjoyed by parents as well as kids.
Note: ARC received via Amazon Vine in exchange for review.
Although I have never really been a very big fan of historical fiction, this is one of the very few historical fiction books that I like. Isabel is an aspiring reporter living in the 1920's where female journalists are uncommon. When Isabel witnesses a murder on her street, she is swept into a mystery packed with drama, accusations, and more. However, to solve this mystery she'll need help from her idol, Maude Collier, the only female journalist for the Chicago Tribune. She'll also have to deal with the annoying Detective Culhane, who seemingly doesn't trust in Isabel's knack for finding clues. This story reminded me of a Nancy Drew mystery (only she's much younger) because of the annoying detective hovering around.
Will Isabel ever find out who murdered Charles Bessemer?