Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, John Grisham's first book for middle-grade readers—and book one in a planned series—will no doubt have wide appeal. Precocious tween bookworms will admire Theodore Boone, a 13-year-old wannabe lawyer, and reluctant readers will keep flipping the pages due to an action-packed plot.
The only child of two busy attorneys, Theo’s passion in life is the law. He hangs out at the courthouse in his small city, and he knows every lawyer, judge, court clerk and cop in town. In a closet-sized office, he gives legal advice to classmates when their parents are filing for divorce or their pets are charged with violating the leash law. When a big murder case goes to trial, Theo organizes a field trip for his government class to observe the first day’s proceedings.
Though Theo longs to be either a “famous trial lawyer” or a “great judge,” he knows he’s in over his head when he finds out about a mysterious eyewitness to the murder. No one else is aware of the witness’ existence, and it’s up to Theo to convince him to come forward and tell the judge what he knows. Otherwise, a guilty murderer will walk free.
Young readers will be intrigued by the showdown of the trial, and as Grisham explains the role of a jury, a district attorney and a bailiff, they’ll learn about some of the players in our justice system. But don’t expect a neat ending: Grisham leaves readers hanging before the lawyers make their closing arguments at the murder trial, setting the stage for Theo’s next adventure.
Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Theo Boone, whose parents are lawyers, has the sharpest legal mind at Strattenburg's middle school. A big murder trial based on circumstantial evidence creates a platform for him. Grisham serves up a dandy legal adventure that moves along quickly. Without intruding on the story's trajectory, he gives plenty of background about the legal process and explores various ethical questions. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #5
Theo Boone has the sharpest legal mind at Strattenburg's middle school. His mother is a divorce lawyer, his father a real-estate attorney, and Theo, well versed in the law, gives free legal advice to his classmates. But it's criminal law that intrigues Theo: he wants to be a trial lawyer. "Most of his classmates dreamed of getting tickets to the big game or concert. Theo Boone lived for the big trials." As in his works for adults, Grisham introduces fairly one-dimensional characters (Theo, except for a penchant for hacking, is close to being the perfect child). But plot is Grisham's forte, and here he serves up a dandy legal adventure that runs at a lesser pace than his adult books do but nonetheless moves along quickly. A big murder trial based on circumstantial evidence creates a platform for Theo, in his informal role as legal advisor, to learn of an undocumented El Salvadorian eyewitness. Without intruding on the trajectory of the story, Grisham gives plenty of background about the legal process and explores various ethical questions concerning Theo's newfound information. Maybe a guilty pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless. betty carter Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2010 August/September
John Grisham has now joined the ranks of adult authors who have successfully transitioned to the world of children?s literature. In his debut middle grade novel, Grisham sticks to what he does best. This courtroom drama features a well-developed small town setting with characters who all have interesting background stories. Although the dialogue is sometimes stilted, and the child characters often seem younger than their stated ages, this is a fast read and page-turner. Thirteen-year-old Theodore Boone, the only child of lawyer parents, is extremely knowledgeable about the law and courtroom procedure. Many of his adult friends are involved in the court system, and many of his classmates consult him for legal advice. When a high profile murder case goes to trial, Theo and others are responsible for finding an eyewitness and evidence unknown to the prosecution and the defense. Although Grisham does not neatly end the trial, a mistrial is declared and the defendant will go on trial again, readers will be satisfied with the book?s conclusion. Adults will be pleased at the positive role models the adult characters are, and all readers will be eagerly awaiting Theo?s next legal adventure. Recommended. Shelley Glantz, Reviews Editor, LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION ¬ 2010 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 May #5
Grisham, a bestseller-list fixture with his legal thrillers, makes his children's book debut with a series opener that lacks thrills. The only child of two attorneys, Theo Boone is an endearing oddball, an eighth-grader who still thinks girls have cooties, but who knows every lawyer, bailiff, and judge in town. There's an underdeveloped subplot about a best friend whose parents are divorcing, but Theo's contacts with peers mainly consist of him playing lawyer--advising one boy to have his parents file for bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure, reassuring another about his brother's drug arrest, and in the main thread, producing an eyewitness to a murder for which the prosecuting attorney, heretofore, had only circumstantial evidence. He's less a real kid than an adult's projection of what an ideal kid might be like--determined to be the "most talented linguist" in his Spanish class and appreciative of the scruffy charms of the local college team's baseball stadium. The book is smoothly written, and there's a mild tutorial on the criminal justice system ("Theo knew that in 65 percent of murder cases the defendant does not testify..."). What there isn't is any excitement. Ages 8-12. (May)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Gr 6-8-- While the ending may be anticlimactic, Grisham brings to his crossover bid the lapidary prose and frank insider's view of this country's legal system that makes his adult best sellers so absorbing. Only 13 but already so much a lawyer in his own mind that he keeps an "office" at home and dispenses legal advice to classmates and even adults, Theo finds himself in over his head when he's told in strict confidence that there's an eyewitness to a high-profile local murder whose perp is about to walk due to lack of evidence. That witness is an illegal immigrant, and so is understandably afraid of coming forward. What to do? Grisham injects occasional side remarks into the narrative (students in Theo's school are gender-separated "according to a new policy adopted by the smart people in charge of educating all the children in town,") and he embroiders Theo's dilemma with intriguing public and behind-the-scenes looks at courts, lawyers, and the realities of the judicial process. He also sets up the plot to move in ominous directions in future episodes--which partly, at least, compensates for leaving the murder trial unresolved at the end of this one. Expect heavy publicity-driven demand.-John Peters, New York Public Library[Page 102]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.