The Leak by Kate Reed Petty and Andrea Bell
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
Middle school student Ruth Keller is an aspiring news reporter who questions authority at every turn. When she discovers a strange black substance on the banks of her favorite lake, she throws herself into an investigation. As the pieces of the puzzle start to come together, Ruth thinks she has all the answers, but this story is going to put everything she thinks she knows about journalism to the test. When the spotlight finally shines on Ruth, she is forced to consider tough decisions that may impact her reputation as a reporter and even her closest relationships.
The Leak is a compelling title for younger readers with strong middle school appeal. The narrative is excellent at both showing and telling the reader how to evaluate information without sacrificing the story. While Ruth’s investigation is at the heart of the book, she is also navigating changing relationships with family, friends, and a possible romantic interest. She is dismissed and lectured to by some adults, and readers will relate to her frustrations when it seems like no one is listening to or respecting her.
Andrea Bell’s artwork suits the story perfectly and will appeal to fans of Svetlana Chmakova, Shannon Hale, and Kristin Gudsnuk. The Leak would be a creative addition to school library or classroom units on research, writing, and evaluating information. It could also be paired with nonfiction titles like Poisoned Water by Candy J. Cooper and Marc Aronson. Beyond its vital lessons, The Leak is also a spunky, realistic middle school read about friendship, crushes, family, and staying true to yourself.
Other Nominated Titles
- Boys Run the Riot, v.2 by Keito Gaku (July 27, 2021)
- Star Wars: The Edge of Balance by Shima Shinya, Justina Ireland, and Mizuki Sakakibara (September 7, 2021)
- Drifting Dragons, v.6 by Taku Kuwabara (November 10, 2020)
- Drifting Dragons, v.8 by Taku Kuwabara (May 18, 2021)
- Ms. Marvel by Saladin Ahmed, v.3: Outlawed by Saladin Ahmed and Minkyu Jung (May 18, 2021)
The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.
Each week, the teams will feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation will be listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.