The young writer’s determination to cover every significant story in her hometown, even an apparent homicide in her neighborhood, attracted worldwide attention after she appeared on the True Crime blog in April. Now, the children’s publishing house Scholastic has signed her to a four-book deal, to be called, “Hilde Cracks the Case.” They will be co-written with her father, Matthew Lysiak, a former New York Daily News reporter now writing books and plays in his native Pennsylvania.
Hilde got the journalism bug following her father around while he was covering New York City, and she began writing her own stories for her online blog and weekly print edition, the Orange Street News. One Saturday morning in April, while pursuing her series of reports on the menace of the Selinsgrove Vandal, she learned that there was a possible homicide. She rode her bike over to the house, wrote a story, filmed an on-scene video with her older sister Izzy, and posted the news before any of the grown-up media even got there.
There was quickly a blowback for Hilde from people who thought 9-year-old girls shouldn’t be covering homicides. So Hilde recorded a response video for her critics. We posted that here. And the world came calling, to include network television appearances and even some interest from movie studios, her father said.
“I read about Hilde in The Washington Post,” said Scholastic editor Katie Carella in a press release, “and I immediately envisioned a fiction series about a serious reporter who just happens to be 9 years old. … 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.’ I’m thrilled to be working with the Lysiak family on this exciting, new series!”
Scholastic said “Hilde Cracks the Case” will be 96-page fully-illustrated books in its “Branches” series. The books will star Hilde and Izzy, with fictionalized versions of real stories Hilde has covered. [Bad news for the Selinsgrove Vandal, who turned out to be a hapless student from a nearby college.] “This series will introduce young readers to the basic questions of journalism — who, what, when, where, why, how,” Scholastic said. “And each book will close with a news article. Children everywhere will soon be budding reporters solving mysteries of their own.”
Hilde was not available for comment, however. Her dedication had become so intense that she was writing something every single day, her father said. “We got a little concerned,” Matt Lysiak said, “so we thought we’d give her a little break” and have her spend some time at summer camp.
Hilde did get to a computer however, and posted this for her readers: “I’ve received some messages from my readers who are wondering why I haven’t been posting this week. Some have wondered if I am ok! I am fine! The reason I haven’t been posting is that I’ve been sent to a swim camp in Berwick. The OSN will be back publishing all the news fit for Selinsgrove next week! I can’t wait!”