It’s October and time for a ghost story. Banesville has ghosts stories running on the front page of the newspaper, but Hildy Biddle, high school journalist, is determined to reveal the truth behind the sinister messages left on the porch of the old Ludlow place. Can she and the rest of the staff of the Core uncover the truth behind the swirling rumors and growing fear spread by the local paper, The Bee?
Joan Bauer has filled Peeled (Scholastic 2008) with quirky characters who take on challenges with courage and humor. I love Hildy Biddle. Actually, I wish I could have been her when I was a high school journalist. She is not content with covering just the typical school events, she wants to be a force for truth and have the Core taken seriously. She has to balance her journalistic ambitions with sch0ol, her family’s orchard business, grief over her father’s death, and a possible romance with Zach, her partner in fighting evil. She is helped by her friends (and even ex-boyfriends) as well as the crusty Polton Baker. Minska, who lived through the Solidarity uprising in Poland, offers a safe haven and inspiration to the journalists who must go underground with their news.
There are sleazy bad guys, too. Pen Piedmont, owner and editor of The Bee, thrives on sensationalism. When Hildy and her friends threaten to unmask the ghost stories, he sues the school to shut down their paper. Guys in suits from out of town show up to buy up struggling apple orchards. When the orchard owners don’t want to sell for their low offering price, things start to turn ugly.
It is up to Hildy to uncover the truth before it is too late.