Synopses & Reviews
Girl Reporter Sinks in Sea of Success
I'm Casey Smith, and life just isn't fair. Have you noticed? I know, you hear adults tell you that all the time. Usually when some dorky teacher gives you major homework on a Friday. But this time I'm taking it personally.
Just last week I wrote the biggest scoop in the history of Trumbull Middle School's newspaper, "Real News." Journalistically speaking, I blew the lid off this town.
Not bad for an eleven-year-old girl.
Believe me when I tell you that the story was a sensation. And believe me when I tell you there isn't a whole lot of sensational stuff going on here in Abbington, which is a pretty small town in some pretty small mountains called the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts. Watching leaves change color is about as exciting as it gets.
So I wrote this whopper of a story. I say this with total modesty, of course. Then comes the unfair part. I had to do it all over again-in one week!
Everybody was saying things like "Way to go!" and "Can't wait to read your next scoop, Casey!" You'd think I'd be able to relax for a minute. Well, guess what? The paper comes out every week. and deadlines come at you like a 18-wheeler on a downhill skid.
Usually I have a million ideas for stories But now my brain was full of that fuzz on your TV when the cable goes out. I'd never been the type to choke under pressure, but I was choking, big-time.
On Tuesday, I bladed for the before-school status meeting of the staff of Real News. Today I was supposed to present my brilliant story ideas to our editor-in-chief, the terminally perky Megan O'Connor.
It was a rainy September morning. My wet sneakers squished as I trudged downthe hall. Every damp footstep reminded me that my brain was waterlogged, too. Was it too late to suddenly develop an acute case of laryngitis'! Strep foot?
When I got to the Rent News room, I stopped in the doorway, surprised. The room was about the size of a closet, And now, it was crammed with students-all sixth graders, like me.
Bobbing over their heads was Mr. Baxter, my English teacher and the newspaper's advisor I had completely forgotten that he was bringing one of his English classes to observe our meeting.
Talk about Pressure! Suddenly a newspaper headline flashed through my head. They do that a lot. It's the work of the creep who lives inside my brain. The one who whispers in my ear: You're gonna fail.
REAL NEWS GETS PUBLISHED WITHOUT CASEY SMITH
Even though the meeting hadn't started, the staff was hard at work. Toni Velez, Our photographer, was examining contact sheet through a loupe. Orange curls exploded from her ponytail and spilled over the sheet. Toni is like one of those models who spends hours arranging he, hair to make it look as though she just got up. But I wouldn't say anything about it to her. The girl has a serious 'tude. You do not, I repeat "do not," want to mess With Toni.
Gary Williams, sports reporter was hunched over his laptop, his lucky baseball cap swung backward on his head. Gary likes to think he's a major jack, but he's really more of a jock wannabe, His friends are the ones who are actually driving in the runs and scoring the touchdowns.
My pal Ringo, The Truly Weird, was busy pinning Lip cartoons he'd drawn about his character, Simon. for the class to look at. Ringo invented the "Simon Says" feature for our issue last week.
Actually, we sort of invented the entire newspaper last week. But that's another story Old news.
Back to Ringo. I can usually count on him to space out on obligations as well as the basic facts of the universe. But today even spaced-out, tie-dyed Ringo was more on the ball than I was.
So what was I going to do? Cop to my lack of ideas? Apologize to the gang and grovel like a slug?
Let me clue you in. Groveling is not my style.
"Casey! You're here. Super!" Megan beckoned to me from across the room. The blue in her sweater matched her canvas backpack, as well as the hair band that swept back her shoulder length blond hair.
Wardrobe coordination is key for me, too. Today, the mud splatter on my jeans exactly matched the color of my eyes. Not that Megan would have seen it that way. No, not Megan. To use one of Megan's own favorite adjectives, she's super. Super-organized. Super-dedicated. Super-Pain-in-the-Butt. Got it? But here's her major problem. She's also a super editor-in-chief.
Well, maybe that's not her problem. Maybe it's mine. Because I had wanted to be editor of the paper. And yet, somehow, I had ended up voting for Megan to be editor-in-chief. I had realized, through circumstances too painful to explain here, that I was a better reporter than editor. I knew that. But I didn't have to like it.
"Isn't this great?" Megan said,indicating the crowd. "A couple of kids told me they want to write stories for the paper. You know that series we're doing on school clubs and how they relate to real life?"
Eleven-year-old Casey Smith decides to do an investigative story for the school paper about a cheating ring operating on campus. All the clues lead her right to Megan O'Connor. Will Casey decide not to rate on her arch rival? Get real!
Big-Time Cheaters Rock Small-Time Town!
The pressure is on Casey Smith, girl reporter extraordinaire, to uncover another knock-your-socks-off story. Then...wham! Casey stumbles on a cheating ring at school. Who's guilty? All clues point to super-girl Megan O'Connor.
Can Casey and the Real News gang get Megan off the hook? Does she deserve to be unhooked?
About the Author
Linda Ellerbee is herself a girl reporter extraordinaire. She is the producer and host of Nick News, the Emmy award-winning children's TV series on Nickelodeon. About Casey Linda says, "A haunted cemetery? Monsters? Zombies? Or an 11-year-old Casey determined to find the truth? Who's the scariest? Casey, of course. That's why I like her." Ms. Ellerbee's production company, Lucky Ducky Productions, has earned a reputation as a supplier of outstanding children's programming for network, syndication, cable, and public television. Originally from Texas, Ms. Ellerbee now divides her time between New York City and western Massachusetts.