The Renegade Reporters

Dial. Aug. 2021. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593323038.
Gr 4-6–Ashley (Ash), Maya, and Brielle consider themselves the school news channel dream team. They have been working with the school station since second grade, and sixth grade should be their time to shine as lead anchor, camera person, and editor. That was before Ash and Maya created a viral video of the gym teacher lip-synching in just her sports bra and shorts when she didn’t know she was being recorded. Now they have to spend their final year of elementary school as support crew with little to no responsibility and watch Ash’s rival, Harry, and his friends fumble through the productions. Not happy with their punishment, the girls enlist the help of Brielle to start their own YouTube news channel, The Underground News, and dub themselves the Renegade Reporters. Soon they find themselves investigating not only dog poo and stolen bicycles, but also whether the number one ad-free educational software platform, Van Ness Media, is tracking and selling student data without their knowledge. Can the Renegade Reporters get the real scoop before their show gets shut down for good? Weissman takes on a lot in this novel, and unfortunately, is only partially successful. We live in a digital world and it’s important that kids are aware of privacy, permission, citing sources, cybersecurity, digital footprints, and marketing tactics; but by taking on so much, readers barely scratch the surface of these issues. The cover shows three girls of various ethnicities, but there are no physical descriptions in the text. Ash has two dads and her family is Jewish, but those are the only details that set her character apart from Maya and Brielle. This could be used in a school setting to discuss digital footprints and information freedom/literacy.
VERDICT Additional purchase if a teacher or librarian will use it in a discussion of relevant topics.

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