Title: The Leak
Author: Kate Reed Perry (writer); Andrea Bell (artist)
Publisher: First Second (2021)
Age Rating: Ages 7+
Every once in a while I’ll read a graphic novel that feels important. The Leak is one of those books.
In a sea of magic, witches, and castles, The Leak is a young grade graphic novel about a normal 12-year-old girl hell-bent on doing good in her community.
The book follows Ruth Keller, amateur journalist. Ruth discovers some strange things going on in her town around the water supply, and in the face of danger and losing friends, Ruth sets out to do the right thing and bring attention to those trying to game the system, polluting the environment in the process.
This book not only teaches youngsters to do the right thing even when it’s difficult, this book teaches young people about the importance of factual news and good reporting.
Ruth runs a local blog, that she uses to bring information to her community. Writer Kate Reed Perry uses the development and execution of this blog to explain to young people not only what journalism is but that it must be responsible. One way the book does this is by focusing on the “Oath” or rules of journalism: objectivity, accuracy, transparency, and honesty…to name a few.
I also dig the book because it has young people caring about the environment. But not just caring, actually getting out there and attempting to cause change. We need more of this; I’d argue more of this than witches and castles. Desperate times and such…
If I taught grammar school, I’d use this book as a jump-off point into a unit on journalism. Have the students reflect upon what is important to them, look up sources, analyze the sources, write their own, etc. I have had high schoolers create around topics that inspire them, and it’s almost always a home run.
Passion breeds creativity. And allowing young people to find and express their voices creates involved citizens that pay attention to what’s going on around them and helps them find avenues to get involved.
And this does not need to be political. The rules of journalism help avoid that. If a student is researching and creating with objectivity, accuracy, transparency, and honesty…they should end up with a solid product devoid of political argument.
Might some right or left leaning ideas happen? Sure. But that’s just another opportunity to discuss the importance of good journalism. As teachers, we must also be objective and facilitate reflection and discussion.
Go get this book, and if you are not a teacher, give it to a young person in your life that needs to hear this story. The future is bright, and it’s even brighter with authors and artists like Kate Reed Petty and Andrea Bell out here trying to get kids inspired to do good.
Happy reading and teaching!
Kate Reed Petty was in a recent Lit-X panel we did on eco-comics that you can watch here.
And Andrea Bell was in a recent Lit-X panel we did on music and comics that you can watch here.
I’m back to doing a handful of reviews a week. Go check out my page with many, many review links with age appropriateness here.