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Peeled Hardcover – May 1, 2008
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The orchard-growing community of Banesville, New York, is known as The Happiest Town in the Happy Apple Valley. But the sleepy town is stricken with hysteria and fear after a series of spooky happenings, and then a death occurs near the abandoned Ludlow House. As Pen Piedmont, the editor of the local paper, publishes fear-mongering headlines, high-school reporter Hildy determines to find the true story behind the incidents and settle her community’s growing unrest. Although there are several puzzling incidents at the story’s center (Is there a plot against Banesville’s citizens? If so, who’s involved?), readers will be most drawn by Hildy’s growing excitement, relayed in her own strong, witty voice, as she learns from a cantankerous, demanding mentor what it takes to be a journalist. Hildy’s romance with a fellow student feels underdeveloped, and the object of her affection is a bit too good to be true. But Bauer’s gleeful wordplay, her sure sense of setting, the details of newspaper life, and the many colorful side characters make this a pleasurable read that may encourage teens to consider deeper questions about family farms, urban sprawl, and the many who profit from public fear. See the adjacent column for more novels about aspiring young journalists. Grades 6-9. --Gillian Engberg
Bauer introduces a feisty, funny teenage heroine who stays true to her mission and herself ... Highly entertaining. -- Kirkus Reviews
[Hildy's] crisp, declarative narration, subtly emulating a journalistic style, sings with tart humor and quixotic purpose. -- Horn Book
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