Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
This legal drama is the first book in the " Theodore Boone" series by John Grisham and is published by Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin's Young Readers Group.
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Theodore Boone is an average 13-year-old, except he is obsessed with the law and can't decide if he is going to be a great lawyer or judge. He lives with his parents, Marcella and Woods Boone, who are lawyers. His Uncle Ike lives nearby; Uncle Ike was a practicing lawyer before he was disbarred. Theodore's friend and classmate April is in the middle of a custody battle but doesn't want to live with either parent. Theodore tries to comfort April and explain divorce custody laws to her.
Theodore explains the law not only to April, but also to many of his classmates. One needs advice because his parents are behind in their mortgage payments and may lose their house. Another has a brother arrested for the possession of marijuana. Animal control has picked up the dog of a third classmate, and another may have information that could change the verdict in the biggest murder trial that has ever hit Theodore's small town.
In the Pete Duffy trial, Pete is accused of murdering his wife. Both the prosecution and defense lawyers in this case are good, but the prosecution's case is based on circumstantial evidence. Pete had access to the murder scene, and he had a motive, but the defense is able to get the jury to doubt Pete's guilt. In the middle of the trial, Theodore tracks down a classmate's cousin, who saw Pete go into his house and leave it at the time of the murder. The cousin won't testify, though, because he is an illegal immigrant and doesn't want to be sent back to El Salvador.
Theodore must rely on the advice of Uncle Ike, and eventually both his parents, to figure out his next step. The whole Boone family finds a way to help the illegal immigrant work toward getting his legal residency and tells the Duffy trial's judge what they know. To the relief of Theodore and his family, the judge declares a mistrial just before closing arguments.
In the courtroom, the bailiff uses a Bible for witnesses to place their hands on when they swear they will tell the truth. People at the homeless shelter are invited to worship at various churches, and church volunteers help kids in the shelter with their homework.
Other Belief Systems
The law works when you have men and women as judges and lawyers who aren't afraid to stand up for what is right, regardless of the consequences.
Pete Duffy is accused of murdering his wife. Cross-examinations are heated and harsh. The mild slang term butt out is used occasionally, as is the mild derogatory term moron. Mention is made that a dog kept at the city's pound would be gassed if it were not adopted within 30 days. A clerk is described as the grouchiest old bag in the courthouse. In a trial, a person learns that his neighbor has four boa constrictors. In his exclamation, he uses God's name in vain. This neighbor buys an ax to kill the snakes if he ever sees them.
The prosecution says that Pete Duffy has been planning his wife's murder for two years. He and his wife have had fights and have talked to divorce lawyers. Forty-six-year-old Myra Duffy was strangled as she was leaving her house to have lunch with her sister. Her carotid artery was pressed firmly from behind for 10 seconds, which made her pass out. Then it was held firmer for 60 seconds, which killed her. Her lack of struggle showed she knew the person. Her death is described as a cold-blooded murder.
Omar Cheepe used to be a federal agent but now works surveillance for hire on Pete Duffy's side. Omar's eyes dart in a way that makes Theodore think he wants to shoot someone.
Theodore has a crush on a woman named Jenny in the clerk's office at family court. She always treats Theodore nicely, but it bothers Theodore that she is older, has a husband and is pregnant. At one point she pats his knee reassuringly. Theodore is bothered that she patted his knee like she would pat a puppy's head. The classes at his school are separated into boys' and girls' classes.
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Drugs and domestic violence: A student at Theodore's school asks Theodore for help. His brother has been arrested for the possession of marijuana. He tells Theodore that the war in his home is between his parents and the kids.
Smoking: Near the carousel, teens hang out. They smoke, and the way they try to stand gives the impression that they're tough.
Condescension: Theodore is portrayed as a very intelligent middle-school student. Throughout the book Theodore thinks that some of the questions that kids and adults ask him are ridiculous. He doesn't say his thoughts out loud; he keeps his condescending opinions to himself, but shares them with the reader.
Alcohol: Uncle Ike drinks too much alcohol. He offers Theodore a Budweiser. When Theodore says he wants one, his uncle hands him a Sprite.
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Readability Age Range
8 to 12
Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin's Young Readers Group