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The Leak

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In this compelling middle-grade graphic novel The Leak, Ruth, a young journalist, is determined to uncover a secret that threatens her town. Ruth Keller is brash and precocious; she argues with her dentist, her parents, and her teachers. So, when she discovers a strange black slime in the man-made lake of her suburban neighborhood, she decides to investigate. Fortified by t In this compelling middle-grade graphic novel The Leak, Ruth, a young journalist, is determined to uncover a secret that threatens her town. Ruth Keller is brash and precocious; she argues with her dentist, her parents, and her teachers. So, when she discovers a strange black slime in the man-made lake of her suburban neighborhood, she decides to investigate. Fortified by the encouragement of those around her, Ruth seeks the truth at all costs, even if it means taking on the rich local country club owner, who she believes is responsible for the pollution. Between the teasing of former friends, and a sudden viral spotlight, Ruth discovers how difficult it is for a journalist to take a stand for what's right in the face of critique and controversy. From writer Kate Reed Petty and illustrator Andrea Bell, comes a story about corruption, pollution, and freedom of the press, and the young journalist at the center of it all.


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In this compelling middle-grade graphic novel The Leak, Ruth, a young journalist, is determined to uncover a secret that threatens her town. Ruth Keller is brash and precocious; she argues with her dentist, her parents, and her teachers. So, when she discovers a strange black slime in the man-made lake of her suburban neighborhood, she decides to investigate. Fortified by t In this compelling middle-grade graphic novel The Leak, Ruth, a young journalist, is determined to uncover a secret that threatens her town. Ruth Keller is brash and precocious; she argues with her dentist, her parents, and her teachers. So, when she discovers a strange black slime in the man-made lake of her suburban neighborhood, she decides to investigate. Fortified by the encouragement of those around her, Ruth seeks the truth at all costs, even if it means taking on the rich local country club owner, who she believes is responsible for the pollution. Between the teasing of former friends, and a sudden viral spotlight, Ruth discovers how difficult it is for a journalist to take a stand for what's right in the face of critique and controversy. From writer Kate Reed Petty and illustrator Andrea Bell, comes a story about corruption, pollution, and freedom of the press, and the young journalist at the center of it all.

30 review for The Leak

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Ann

    ARC courtesy of NetGalley. A quick-paced MG graphic novel about a young reporter and her quest for the truth. The growth of Ruth's journalism from a hobby to something more serious was a highlight for me; she grows as a person along with her story. The author ties in the true story of Flint, MI, and the realities of being a journalist in today's world in a straightforward afterward that will inspire readers. I liked the art and the book's color palette as well, it really fit the story. ARC courtesy of NetGalley. A quick-paced MG graphic novel about a young reporter and her quest for the truth. The growth of Ruth's journalism from a hobby to something more serious was a highlight for me; she grows as a person along with her story. The author ties in the true story of Flint, MI, and the realities of being a journalist in today's world in a straightforward afterward that will inspire readers. I liked the art and the book's color palette as well, it really fit the story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alix

    A masterpiece, different, entertaining, and informative. I love when published works can be read by both children and adults; it gives off a timeless yet wonderful learning experience for all ages. Ruth Keller is an ambitious young girl who shows great dedication to journalism; her work ethics in some ways are good examples for the future generation (aside from the lying and bias judgment). I love the character Ms. Freeman. It reminds me of how these are the types of teachers that are truly need A masterpiece, different, entertaining, and informative. I love when published works can be read by both children and adults; it gives off a timeless yet wonderful learning experience for all ages. Ruth Keller is an ambitious young girl who shows great dedication to journalism; her work ethics in some ways are good examples for the future generation (aside from the lying and bias judgment). I love the character Ms. Freeman. It reminds me of how these are the types of teachers that are truly needed in society. Society needs teachers like Ms. Freeman to not only encourage exploration, but also to fight for updated science materials for students to use. I also enjoyed the Afterword/Author Note at the end of the novel and was especially intrigued by the quoted: - “Trustworthy journalists talk to people with firsthand knowledge and experience with news and events. They cite experts. They describe events objectively, sticking to facts that can be proven, and they are clear about what is unknown. They offer multiple perspectives, not just the most powerful ones. And if they get something wrong, they issue a retraction or a correction.” The author teaches the readers on how to ACTUALLY be a journalist, or have somewhat of a characteristics of being/becoming a journalists. It is sad these days that the news media does not really follow as such; too many times the articles show bias judgment and manipulations that it makes it harder to understand what is the truth and what is human opinions. What I think the book lack is the author should have shown the correction part in the graphic novel; Ruth Keller never apologizes publicly to Dennis Koethcke from the Twin Oaks Country Club, Mr. Edwards from Autospa, and the other businesses she reported of violating the Clean Water Act. Although her intention was to report the truth, I don’t think it was necessary for her to publish the article; due to the current water pollution situation, it would bring defamation/almost like accusation towards the businesses. Whether if it was Ruth’s intention or not, the public would see it as those were the businesses that caused the whole water contamination. I think if the author included Ruth publicly apologizing for her wrong judgment, this would fully illustrate what it means to be a journalist.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Both the content and artwork in this book were excellent! Ruth, an aspiring journalist, is convinced there is something wrong with the water supply in her town. Even if she can't get adults to take her seriously, she is determined to find out the truth and report on it. The Leak did a great job of telling Ruth's fictional story while also pulling in and discussing the reality of places like Flint, Michigan where the water supply is contaminated and making people, especially kids, sick. This is br Both the content and artwork in this book were excellent! Ruth, an aspiring journalist, is convinced there is something wrong with the water supply in her town. Even if she can't get adults to take her seriously, she is determined to find out the truth and report on it. The Leak did a great job of telling Ruth's fictional story while also pulling in and discussing the reality of places like Flint, Michigan where the water supply is contaminated and making people, especially kids, sick. This is brought up occasionally throughout the book as well as discussed further in the back matter, creating a space for kids to learn and think about how the story in this book ties into real life. This book also shows kids that they can make a difference. Without Ruth, the truth about the water supply would not have come out. She refused to be scared into dropping her story or lying about what was really going on, even if it would benefit her. It also shows that while many adults may not listen, there are some who believe kids and are on their side. Ruth gains allies in her older brother's girlfriend and her teacher, both of whom know that Ruth has the right and the drive to find the truth and share it with others. Overall, this book was important and educational, and also a lot of fun to read. Thanks to NetGalley and First Second Books for the eARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Annamarie Carlson (she, her)

    Ruth Keller might be twelve, but she is already a passionate journalist, running her own email newsletter sharing fun rumors and stories about her community. When she runs into something very real--and very strange--at the local lake, she knows she has a story to find. This shiny black slime surely doesn't belong here (and really it probably isn't from aliens, as she first assumed). After she tells some adults about it, she finds a mysterious clean-up crew at the lake removing all traces of the Ruth Keller might be twelve, but she is already a passionate journalist, running her own email newsletter sharing fun rumors and stories about her community. When she runs into something very real--and very strange--at the local lake, she knows she has a story to find. This shiny black slime surely doesn't belong here (and really it probably isn't from aliens, as she first assumed). After she tells some adults about it, she finds a mysterious clean-up crew at the lake removing all traces of the strange sludge. Ruth's mind jumps to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but surely nothing like that could happen here. Her endless cavities might be a mystery (since Ruth brushes AND flosses every single day), but this water issue can't be related...right? Soon Ruth is forced to take matters into her own hands when the adults around her try to bury any controversy and avoid her questions. Ruth is on the brink of something big--she just needs to find the evidence to make everyone believe her. This was good--really good. The mystery leaves clues in the words and the illustrations, with the reader spotting clues along with the main character. The comparison to the Flint water crisis (and the cover up) was on point. And I love a strong, smart heroine who isn't about to let anyone bully her into silence. Really well done!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Bange

    A graphic mystery that packs a punch... Ruth is a middle grader on a mission: to share her sense of curiosity with her friends and neighbors through her self-published online newsletter. The day her friend Jonathan takes her fishing in a local lake, she finds evidence of potentially toxic pollutants in the water. She follows tips from her brother's girlfriend on how to report this objectively as a journalist and goes with her gut where it takes her to unravel and solve the cause of this problem t A graphic mystery that packs a punch... Ruth is a middle grader on a mission: to share her sense of curiosity with her friends and neighbors through her self-published online newsletter. The day her friend Jonathan takes her fishing in a local lake, she finds evidence of potentially toxic pollutants in the water. She follows tips from her brother's girlfriend on how to report this objectively as a journalist and goes with her gut where it takes her to unravel and solve the cause of this problem that is affecting the health of many in her community. Petty's debut in writing for middle graders is one fun roller-coaster ride. This one has it all - a serious community problem mixed with technology, a mystery, middle grade gossip/mild bullying, and a little romance. The pacing and characters feel just right for the story and the audience. Ruth is flawed by her best intentions. Comic artist Andrea Bell (Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw series, Andrews McMeel Publishing) does a solid job of fleshing out visuals in the story - characters and settings. She changes POV is help build suspense and keep things interesting. Nicely formatted, it reads with ease. Hand this one to budding sleuths looking for something to breeze through! Recommended for grades 4-8.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

    This graphic novel is well-illustrated and engaging, featuring a strong female protagonist who discovers contaminated water and is determined to trace the contamination back to its source. Throughout the book, she learns about how to pursue investigative journalism in a way that seeks the truth above all else, while still being respectful to others. The story is partly inspired by the Flint water crisis. It will appeal to middle grade readers who are interested in journalism or environmental issu This graphic novel is well-illustrated and engaging, featuring a strong female protagonist who discovers contaminated water and is determined to trace the contamination back to its source. Throughout the book, she learns about how to pursue investigative journalism in a way that seeks the truth above all else, while still being respectful to others. The story is partly inspired by the Flint water crisis. It will appeal to middle grade readers who are interested in journalism or environmental issues, and the investigative plot was more complex and multi-layered than I had expected, raising awareness for environmental impacts without being overly preachy or one-dimensional. Content notes: References to "penis graffiti" at school, mild language, breaking and entering, lying, references to making out, and a kiss.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. This book is a poignant look into how patronized young voices are when tackling big issues. Ruth has discovered a problem In her town and sets out to discover who is responsible for the problem, along the way she learns to trust her intuition and seek facts over her own judgements. This story mentions a real life situation that anchors and gives context for readers. I did find the ending a bit unresolved and open, I thin This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. This book is a poignant look into how patronized young voices are when tackling big issues. Ruth has discovered a problem In her town and sets out to discover who is responsible for the problem, along the way she learns to trust her intuition and seek facts over her own judgements. This story mentions a real life situation that anchors and gives context for readers. I did find the ending a bit unresolved and open, I think it is supposed to mirror how these problems often take years to unravel but in a story I like endings. I would definitely use this story for my journalism students to discuss the merits of being a good journalist and uncovering a story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. This book is a poignant look into how patronized young voices are when tackling big issues. Ruth has discovered a problem In her town and sets out to discover who is responsible for the problem, along the way she learns to trust her intuition and seek facts over her own judgements. This story mentions a real life situation that anchors and gives context for readers. I did find the ending a bit unresolved and open, I thin This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. This book is a poignant look into how patronized young voices are when tackling big issues. Ruth has discovered a problem In her town and sets out to discover who is responsible for the problem, along the way she learns to trust her intuition and seek facts over her own judgements. This story mentions a real life situation that anchors and gives context for readers. I did find the ending a bit unresolved and open, I think it is supposed to mirror how these problems often take years to unravel but in a story I like endings. I would definitely use this story for my journalism students to discuss the merits of being a good journalist and uncovering a story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Great graphic novel about student investigative journalism. Ruth notices pollution at the local lake and tries to solve the mystery of why it is there, and who is responsible. She takes advice from her brother's girlfriend who is interning at the New York Times. Nicely done story, in that it shows all the problems associated with jumping to conclusions, and trying to prove something that isn't true. Solid story. Good middle-school level, with some personality thrown in so it is not just a journali Great graphic novel about student investigative journalism. Ruth notices pollution at the local lake and tries to solve the mystery of why it is there, and who is responsible. She takes advice from her brother's girlfriend who is interning at the New York Times. Nicely done story, in that it shows all the problems associated with jumping to conclusions, and trying to prove something that isn't true. Solid story. Good middle-school level, with some personality thrown in so it is not just a journalism story. Good twists and turns as we learn things are not quite what they always seem. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It shows the importance of clean water and how even kids can stand up and fight for what's right. Ruth is determined to find out what's wrong with her town's water. She is learning about journalism and what it means to gather evidence, conduct interviews, and write a story with just the facts. The story is interesting, the art is good, and the book leaves you not knowing what happens but hopeful for the future. I think anyone who enjoys character-driven, real I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It shows the importance of clean water and how even kids can stand up and fight for what's right. Ruth is determined to find out what's wrong with her town's water. She is learning about journalism and what it means to gather evidence, conduct interviews, and write a story with just the facts. The story is interesting, the art is good, and the book leaves you not knowing what happens but hopeful for the future. I think anyone who enjoys character-driven, realistic fiction graphic novels will enjoy this. (Read a digital ARC from Netgalley.)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    In this graphic novel, Petty captures the drama of middle school, with gossiping friends and first kisses, but with a twist, as Ruth, a budding young journalist, tries to get to the bottom of a problem with the water in her community. In the process, like many middle school kids, she acts without thinking and has to deal with the consequences of lies and poor decisions. Ruth is a likeable, purpose-filled young lady who does learn from her mistakes. Future journalists will learn a lot while they In this graphic novel, Petty captures the drama of middle school, with gossiping friends and first kisses, but with a twist, as Ruth, a budding young journalist, tries to get to the bottom of a problem with the water in her community. In the process, like many middle school kids, she acts without thinking and has to deal with the consequences of lies and poor decisions. Ruth is a likeable, purpose-filled young lady who does learn from her mistakes. Future journalists will learn a lot while they are enjoying this environmental mystery. Review based on an ARC received through NetGalley.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan Rose

    A welcome edition to your school library. Why? Because it's a graphic novel, which means that your students will read it. Even better, the protagonist is a student of color but that doesn't define her, it describes her, meaning that she will reflect a good number of your students. The message is great, it's the value of evidence and evaluation of resources and balance and understanding bias and reporting facts, which is typically dry for students to digest. But it is presented engagingly and suc A welcome edition to your school library. Why? Because it's a graphic novel, which means that your students will read it. Even better, the protagonist is a student of color but that doesn't define her, it describes her, meaning that she will reflect a good number of your students. The message is great, it's the value of evidence and evaluation of resources and balance and understanding bias and reporting facts, which is typically dry for students to digest. But it is presented engagingly and successful, which is the reason you need to have this on your shelves.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Iggi

    I really like contemporary middle-grade comics and this one is exceptional! It’s laugh-out-loud funny, serious, and compelling all at the same time. The artwork is so great, simple and round but with a realism of character that helps give a sense of hope even as the protagonist struggles with feeling powerless against the adults around her motivated to hide the truth. Not all the adults are bad and not all the kids are good! The characters are complicated, which I love in a story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens

    Aspiring journalist Ruth Keller, 12, finds the next big scoop for her newsletter when she and her crush discover black sludge in the lake. She unearths a possible cover-up and suspects the involvement of the Twin Oaks Country Club. With help from her science teacher Ms. Freeman and her brother's girlfriend, Sara, a New York Times intern, Ruth relies on her wits to unmask the culprits behind the water pollution. [from School Library Journal] Aspiring journalist Ruth Keller, 12, finds the next big scoop for her newsletter when she and her crush discover black sludge in the lake. She unearths a possible cover-up and suspects the involvement of the Twin Oaks Country Club. With help from her science teacher Ms. Freeman and her brother's girlfriend, Sara, a New York Times intern, Ruth relies on her wits to unmask the culprits behind the water pollution. [from School Library Journal]

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jess Smiley

    An adventurous, in-depth story about Ruth, a young journalist, who is searching for the source of what she thinks is a water problem in her city.through the help of friends, teachers, parents, and even business owners, Ruth learns what it means to be a journalist and even finds evidence to support her suspicions. Teens will love Ruth’s story and come away excited to tell their own!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dale Barlow

    (Graph JF) 03.21.2021: per NY Times Childrens Books/Graphic Novels recommendation; while I am veering away from JF fiction in general, this one is about a buddy journalist uncovering a "Flint-like" scandal in her own backyard, so I am hoping it will be more entertaining; at the Madison County Public Library, Berea...; (Graph JF) 03.21.2021: per NY Times Childrens Books/Graphic Novels recommendation; while I am veering away from JF fiction in general, this one is about a buddy journalist uncovering a "Flint-like" scandal in her own backyard, so I am hoping it will be more entertaining; at the Madison County Public Library, Berea...;

  17. 5 out of 5

    Binxie

    Ruthie writes an online newsletter about local events. She becomes an investigative reporter when she discovers weird stuff in the shoreline water in her town. Bringing environmental issues to the younger reader, this graphic novel is just the right combination of adventure, tween angst, and activism

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Perez

    I thought it was really cute. Good story that draws a lot of parallels to the Flint Michigan water situation. I didn't like the b-plot, but I think there's a lot here to like if you're looking for a protagonist who loves nature and can't be stopped. I thought it was really cute. Good story that draws a lot of parallels to the Flint Michigan water situation. I didn't like the b-plot, but I think there's a lot here to like if you're looking for a protagonist who loves nature and can't be stopped.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Princess Gomez

    You are knowledgeable in terms of writing a novel, I really enjoyed it! Well done! ... If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to [email protected] or [email protected]

  20. 4 out of 5

    Asuna Kirisaki

    ‌The story is powerful; I like how it was presented. Good job writer! If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to [email protected] or [email protected]

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lite

    The story is powerful; I like how it was presented. Good job writer! If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to [email protected] or [email protected]

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karah Power

    I liked this; some of the speech bubbles were hard to track but the content and storyline were good. main character is 12 years old, content focuses on pollution with some relationship asides. Touches on the "you're a kid stay out of grown up issues" topic. I liked this; some of the speech bubbles were hard to track but the content and storyline were good. main character is 12 years old, content focuses on pollution with some relationship asides. Touches on the "you're a kid stay out of grown up issues" topic.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    ARC Courtesy of Netgalley and First Second. This a middle grade graphic novel about environmental concerns and the difference a kid can make. Think Erin Brockovich/DarK Waters with kid journalists

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tam I

    Read an ARC. Good graphic with science in it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda [Novel Addiction]

    A very good juvenile graphic novel - definitely recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christy Sibila

    Ruth is a relatable character who uses her voice to affect real change in her community while simultaneously navigating middle school drama. Inspiring.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Kahn

    Terrific graphic novel about a budding investigative reporter uncovering a toxic leak in her small town. Palette leans toward pastel. Diverse cast of characters. Should have high appeal.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Yumi

    Your story deserves a lot of audience; you can publish it on Novel Star Mobile App.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joe Anderson

    Great start! I'd like to see how this is going to turn out. You know what, you can join NovelStar's writing competition. Great start! I'd like to see how this is going to turn out. You know what, you can join NovelStar's writing competition.

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