July 21, 2016
Have you written your bestseller yet? No? Well you’re falling behind as nine-year-old Hilde Lysiak already has…
by Nikki Griffiths
Nine-year-old journalist and soon-to-be author Hilde Kate Lysiak has just signed a four-book deal with Scholastic.
So who is this incredible youngster? No stranger to the written word, Lysiak started Orange Street News in 2014, the only newspaper devoted to the area of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. She is helped by her her twelve-year-old sister, Isabel Rose Lysiak, and her father, Matthew Lysiak, a former reporter for the New York Daily News.
Lysiak made headlines herself in April 2016 after breaking a story about a suspected murder in her small hometown. Controversy struck as haters took to social media, including the Orange Street Facebook page and Youtube channel, criticising and shaming the nine-year-old for acting inappropriately.
Her father told the Washington Post that comments were usually positive about her stories, saying: “She was embraced when she was doing cuter stories, but about six months into writing the paper she got more confident and started stepping outside the box.”
Not one to take criticism lying down, Lysiak, with the help of her sister, created a response video addressing those attacking her.
She starts by reading out some of the comments received online:
“I am disgusted that this cute little girl thinks she is a real journalist. What happened to tea parties?”
“9 year old girls should be playing with dolls, not trying to be reporters.”
“Perhaps you are too young to understand the difference between decency/respect and sensationalism.”
And this is what she had to say in her defence:
I don’t think people should be able to decide for me who I should be and what I should be doing. I never began my newspaper so that people would think I was cute. I started the Orange Street News to give people the information they need to know.
I want to be taken seriously. I’m sure other kids do, too. Grownups usually treat kids like they cannot do anything great. If adults don’t think we can do something, then it is hard for us to believe that we can. And then how will we have great things in this world?
Now Lysiak has the last laugh, as she has signed a four-book, worldwide deal with Scholastic. She is writing the series with her father, and the books, aimed at six- to eight-year-olds, will be based on the stories she has reported.
“I read about Hilde in the Washington Post, and I immediately envisioned a fiction series about a serious reporter who just happens to be nine years old,” said Katie Carella, senior editor at Scholastic, in the official press release, continuing:
As soon as I spoke with Hilde, I just knew she’d be the perfect fit… Kids across the globe have reached out to her, inspired by her unflagging dedication to reporting the news. To quote Hilde: “You’re never too young to follow your dreams. If you take yourself seriously, other people will take you seriously, too.”
The first in the series, Hilde Cracks the Case: Hero Dog! will publish in September 2017, with the remaining books, Bear on the Loose!!, UFO Spotted!!, and Fire Fire!! publishing in quick succession, the last coming in May 2018.
With film rights currently up for sale, the sky is the limit for this inspirational young writer.
Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.