Friday, July 18, 2008
PEELED by Joan Bauer
I was thrilled when I saw Joan Bauer had written a new book. She is one of the YA authors I admire the most. Her strong, independent female characters make her books a pleasure to recommend to my 8th grade readers.
PEELED is set in a small town where the economy depends on agriculture, specifically the apple business. The past several years have seen less than ideal growing conditions and the area is beginning to suffer. These tough times have made the area ripe (sorry, couldn't help myself) for some wealthy investors who are out to make a tidy profit at the expense of some honest, hardworking people.
Hildy Biddle is an idealistic young reporter for the high school newspaper. She wants to uncover the truth through her reporting to honor the memory of her late father who earned his living as a reporter. A challenging story comes her way as news of a ghost at the old Ludlow house hits the local news. Over the years there have been supposed sightings of old man Ludlow's ghost, but now things are stirred up again when one man is caught breaking and entering the old house and another man is found dead on the property.
As Hildy and the rest of the newspaper staff begin to investigate, it becomes obvious that the local weekly paper is sensationalizing the ghost news to sell papers. The more the young reporters dig into the situation, the more suspicious it becomes. Soon a large real estate developer is in on the action with some crazy scheme to pull the town out of its economic slump. But what will it cost the town and its long-time residents and business owners?
Like all of Joan Bauer's other YA novels, PEELED features a great female main character. Determined to do the right thing, she works tirelessly with the support of family and good friends to uncover the facts and right the wrong that threatens her town. Clever characters and interesting plot twists will definitely keep the attention of readers. The only downside I can see after finishing this book, is now I will have to sit back and wait a while to see what Bauer has to offer next.