Little Book,  Middle grade

Theodore Boone: Half The Man, Twice The Lawyer

John Grisham
A perfect murder
A faceless witness
A lone courtroom champion knows the whole truth . . . and he’s only thirteen years old
Meet Theodore Boone
In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom.
But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.
The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served…

I have enjoyed many of John Grisham’s books and was interested to see how his writing would translate into a children’s book. I wasn’t disappointed.
As the blurb indicates Theo is a 13 year old who loves the law. His parents are both lawyers and he has learnt loads about the American judicial system and law. At school other students come to him for advice when they, or someone they know, are in trouble. Theo always seems to have the answer!
Theo is a likeable character, and despite his unusual amount of knowledge he has a normal life. He knows where he fits in the scheme of things (not in the popular league) and has ups and downs that all children do; homework, parents and so on. Then he finds himself in a situation where he does not have the answer and he’s promised not to tell! This can be a huge dilemma for any child, let alone when the information can prove ‘whodunit’ in a murder trial and that trial has already started.
This is still very recognisably Grisham. The writing is pacey and keeps you hooked as gradually more and more is revealed. Even though you know from about half way through the book who committed the crime there is still a bit of tension (not as much as the adult books, but I don’t think that you would expect that). It is interesting watching Theo deal with his moral dilemma about what to do, he can’t break his word, but he can’t let a criminal walk free. Also Grisham manages to explain how the court works and the ins and outs of the laws that cause part of the problem without being boring or patronising. There is much in there that a young reader might not know and they will be hugely educated about how the courts work (or at least the American ones) by the end of the story.
Verdict: A great starter for getting children into court room drama!

Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 2011(2nd ed.)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Genre: Crime Fiction
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None

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