Cover image for Isabel Feeney : Star Reporter
Title:
Isabel Feeney : Star Reporter
Author:
Fantaskey, Beth, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston ; New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2016]

©2016
Physical Description:
336 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
In the 1920s, a ten-year-old newsgirl who aspires to be a reporter at the ChicagoTribune investigates the murder of a gangster.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
840 Lexile.
ISBN:
9780544582491
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

It's 1920s Chicago--the guns-and-gangster era of Al Capone--and it's unusual for a girl to be selling the Tribune on the street corner. But ten-year-old Isabel Feeney is unusual . . . unusually obsessed with being a news reporter. She can't believe her luck when she stumbles not only into a real-live murder scene, but also into her hero, the famous journalist Maude Collier. The story of how the smart, curious, loyal Isabel fights to defend the honor of her accused friend and latches on to the murder case like a dog on a pant leg makes for a winning, thoroughly entertaining middle grade mystery.


Author Notes

Beth Fantaskey is the author of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, Jessica Rules the Dark Side, Jekel Loves Hyde, and Buzz Kill.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* On the frigid street corners of 1920s Chicago, 10-year-old Isabel Feeney hawks Tribunes to help pay the rent. But she doesn't want to just sell papers one day she wants to write for them, like her idol, Maude Collier. Isabel gets the chance to prove her mettle when one of her best customers, Miss Giddings, is accused of murdering her gangster boyfriend. Convinced her friend is innocent, Isabel begins her own investigation, which draws her into Chicago's seamier side and into the path of Maude herself, who takes the enterprising girl under her wing. Fantaskey does an excellent job of conveying the flavor of the time period, drawing attention to the public's fascination with murderers, bootleggers, and gangsters in particular, the misplaced glamor associated with the women on Murderess' Row. Isabel's innocence and intelligence combine to form a complex character full of moxie. Her relationship with Maude is especially well drawn, as Maude treats Isabel's determination to be a female crime reporter not a recipe writer, like most women with respect. The investigation and murder trial are laced with intrigue and excitement, and the pages will fly as readers hurry to see if the scrappy newsgirl can get the scoop that will save Miss Giddings from the noose. Showing surprising depth, this historical mystery will score big with young gumshoes and aspiring journalists.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

The intrepid star of Fantaskey's (Buzz Kill) first foray into middle grade fiction is a newsie, hawking the Tribune in Prohibition-era Chicago. However, Isabel dreams of writing for the paper, rather than selling it on street corners. As in the musical Chicago, part of the story is set on the Cook County Jail's infamous "Murderess Row," where Isabel's favorite customer-a pretty Marshall Field's clerk, Colette Giddings-awaits trial for the murder of her gangster boyfriend. Determined to clear Miss Giddings's name, Isabel, 10, befriends the Trib's lead reporter, Maude Collier, who-like Isabel-is the lone woman in a male-dominated field. The outcome is never in doubt, but short chapters (most just two or three pages) and lots of action will easily keep readers' attention. Isabel is a highly sympathetic character whose father died in WWI and whose single mother desperately needs the pennies her daughter contributes from her daily tips. It's a story chockfull of colorful historical information with a heroine who is impetuous, flawed, and very easy to root for. Ages 10-12. Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

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 © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

CHAPTER 1 "MURDER ON HALSTED STREET!" I HOLLERED, waving a fat copy of the Chicago Tribune in front of the last few people hurrying home for dinner, their heads bent against a wickedly cold wind. The streets were dark and dusted with snow, and I knew nobody was going to stop, but I had to sell as many newspapers as possible, so I kept trying. "Read all about it!"      The truth was, though, murder wasn't big news in my city. It seemed like somebody--usually a gangster--got killed pretty much every day. People could hardly be bothered to read about a homicide in Chicago in 1926. Even ladies were carrying guns--and using them. A whole part of the county jail, called Murderess's Row, was set aside for women who'd done somebody in.      "It's Prohibition," my mother always said with a sigh. "That law has made the city crazy!"      I didn't know much about laws, but I knew when to give up peddling papers. Setting my unsold copies on the sidewalk under a streetlamp, I used my teeth to yank off my dad's old wool gloves, dug into my pockets, and counted my meager profits.      Nine lousy cents!      Then I glanced at the pile of papers at my feet, checking to see who had written the murder story on the front page, and sure enough, I saw the name Maude Collier. I bet she got paid a lot to write news. Just like I would when I was a famous girl reporter, which would happen. I wouldn't be a stupid newsgirl forever. Maybe I'd even go to school again, someday . . .      "Isabel! Isabel Feeney!"      The sound of someone calling my name interrupted my daydream, and I looked up to see one of my regular customers, a pretty young lady named Colette Giddings, hurrying toward me. She was smiling and waving a fist that I knew held coins.      "Hey, Miss Giddings," I greeted her. She wore a fancy white fur coat instead of her usual wool one, so I added, "You look really nice tonight."      "Why, thank you, Isabel," she said, handing me some money. More money than the paper cost. Miss Giddings was just a clerk at the big department store, Marshall Field's, but she never asked for change. Then she frowned at me, concern in her wide brown movie-star eyes. Honestly, with her dark curly hair and her sweet smile, Miss Giddings could've gone to Hollywood and been an actress like Mary Pickford. Why couldn't I ever get my mousy brown curls to look that nice? "Where are your mittens, Isabel?" she demanded. "Your hands are turning blue!"      I'd jammed my gloves into my pocket, and I pulled them out to show her. "I've got these. They used to be my dad's, but with the fingers cut halfway off, they work okay."      "Oh, Isabel . . ." Miss Giddings's frown deepened. She knew all about how my father had died in the Great War, and the few times I'd mentioned him, it always made her sad. Then I'd wish I hadn't done it. "Here." She tucked her newspaper under her arm and started to remove her own leather gloves. "These will fit you better. I have another pair at home."      "I am not taking those!" I cried, my fair, freckled cheeks getting warm in spite of the cold wind. She held out the gloves, and I stepped back. "I won't!"      Miss Giddings opened her mouth to protest. Then she stopped herself, folded her gloves away in her purse, and apologized quietly. "I'm sorry, Izzie. I just worry about you, working out here in the cold. You know, having a son your age, I have a soft spot . . ."      I didn't know much about Miss Giddings's personal life, but she had mentioned her kid, Robert, before.      How come he was never with her?      And where was her husband?      Had he died in a trench in France, like my dad? Because the war had taken a lot of men.      I didn't feel like I could ask. And I didn't want her charity. "My mother will probably get me some mittens soon," I fibbed. "She's got a new job, cleaning a hospital at night."      Well, the part about the job was true. But it wasn't going to buy new mittens. I just hoped we could heat the house a little better.      "All right, Isabel," Miss Giddings said--still sounding worried. "You just be careful out here." Then she glanced down the street and suddenly seemed distracted. "I've got to run now, Izzie. Take care, okay?"      "Yeah, you too," I said, watching as she hurried away, toward whatever--or whoever--had caught her attention.      That was when I realized a man was waiting for her a few yards down the street. A tall guy who stood in the shadows, his hat pulled low and his hands jammed into the pockets of a long overcoat. When they met up, he took Miss Giddings's arm, and at first I was happy for her. She was a good person, and if her husband had been killed, it would be nice if she met somebody new.      A moment later, I wasn't so sure about that, because Miss Giddings and her friend were obviously arguing--though I couldn't hear what they said--and the man was rough with her as they walked into the darkness. He tugged at her fur coat, and she wobbled on heels that were higher than her usual shoes.      I kept staring even after Miss Giddings and the man turned a corner. Then, because I couldn't exactly interfere in a spat between two adults, I bent to pick up my stack of papers before the rising wind blew them away. But that winter wind, as strong as it was, couldn't drown out the sound of a gunshot. A single, sharp report that echoed from the alley into which Miss Giddings and that man had just disappeared.      No. I'd be able to hear that for the rest of my life. Excerpted from Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter by Beth Fantaskey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.