New Children’s Novel ‘The Renegade Reporters’ Based in Federal Hill

| August 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

Author Elissa Brent Weissman just released her new children’s novel The Renegade Reporters with publisher Penguin. The book is set in Federal Hill where Weissman lived for 15 years before relocating to Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019.

The Renegade Reporters is about a group of sixth grade reporters named Ash, Maya, and Brielle who go to a school Weissman described as “a stand-in” for Federal Hill Preparatory School (Federal Hill Prep). Weissman’s two kids went to Federal Hill Prep before relocating to New Zealand.

The plots is described as:

Ash and her friends are reporters. They were ready to lead their school news show, The News at Nine, sponsored by Van Ness Media, when an unfortunate incident involving a dancing teacher, an irresponsibly reported story, and a viral video got them kicked off the crew.” So Ash, Maya, and Brielle decide to start their own news show, The Underground News. And soon they stumble on a big lead: Van Ness Media, the educational company that provides their school’s software, has been gathering data from all the kids at school. And as they dig deeper, they start to reconsider the meaning of privacy, especially as it pertains to what we all do online. In The Renegade Reporters, The Social Dilemma meets sixth grade in Baltimore City.

All the main characters are residents of Federal Hill and the book features sights and scenes around the neighborhood. They cross the street at Cross St., they visit Federal Hill Park and Riverside Park, take a trip on the Baltimore Water Taxi, and visit Weissman’s alma mater Johns Hopkins University. They also visit some businesses in Federal Hill and attend Rosh Hashanah Under the Stars.

Weissman said her 10-year-old daughter read the book and asked, “Was this based on me?” It wasn’t exactly, but Weissman drew inspiration from the lives of her children and their friends.

The Renegade Reporters is doing a virtual launch event tonight with The Ivy Bookshop.

Weissman is looking forward to feature her longtime hometown in one of her novels. “I am excited to promote Baltimore and give it a good portrayal,” she said, adding that people in New Zealand mostly know Baltimore from crime shows such as The Wire or the podcast Serial.

This is the 10th book for Weissman. Her most popular book was Nerd Camp, which became a four-book series. Her last book was The Length of a String.

Weissman noted she was excited to see some of her books in her local library in Christchurch.

Weissman says she misses Baltimore and hopes to visit soon.

Elissa Brent Weissman photo courtesy of Alisha Shaw

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Founder and Publisher of, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.