Theodore Boone is a typical 13 year old boy – well, except for the fact that he is a mini-expert in criminal and civil law. Because both his parents are attorneys, Theo is also a regular at the courthouse, where he’s friendly with everyone from bailiffs to important judges. All of this comes in very handy when his classmates have trouble with impounded dogs, delinquent brothers, and bankrupt parents. Theo is even able to use his connections to get his government class balcony seats at the biggest trial to hit their hometown of Strattenburg in decades – a murder trial.

However, Theo’s reputation as a “kid lawyer” gets him into a bit of a tight spot when a witness to the murder comes to Theo for advice. The witness is Bobby, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, who doesn’t want to go to the police for fear of being deported. To complicate things, Theo, like any good lawyer, promises not to reveal Bobby’s identity to anyone. Fortunately for Theo, he has two smart, honest parents and even a disbarred, mildly alcholic, albeit kindly, uncle he can turn to for help. In the end, Theo is able to do the right thing for Bobby and see to it that justice is served.

So, everything turns out okay….or does it? Like every book I’ve read recently, this one builds up a story that leads us straight to the sequel. Ugh! What’s up with that? The whole purpose of this blog is to help me (and other parents) streamline the process of finding out about the books our kids are reading. Who has time for sequels? It’s my policy not to make sequels a priority. Once I’ve read a book, I feel like I know the general direction of the storyline and the tendency of the author to use (or not use) questionable content. I figure it’s at least enough information to know whether or not I want to let my kids get started on a particular series.

With Theodore Boone, however, I might have to make an exception to my sequel rule. For starters, I’m a big John Grisham fan, so I’m always up for one of his books. On the other hand, as much as I love his books, I’ve gotta say, this wasn’t my favorite. It was well-written and it kept me engaged, but nothing really happened. I kept waiting for some drama – a kidnapping, a threat, a frantic dash to escape a white collar criminal’s seedy thugs. A lot of things were hinted at. A lot of things almost happened. But there was never a big tense moment when our hero was in peril. Sure he’s a 13 year old boy, but I was expecting something a little peril at least. But in the end, I felt like the whole book was one big set up for the sequels. Still, given John Grisham’s reputation, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the sequels are better than the first Theodore Boone.

LANGUAGE

None! Even the bad guys don’t swear.

VIOLENCE

Nope. Even the murder was fairly calm – as murders go.

SEXUAL CONTENT

Well, there is the mention of a crush on a secretary at the courthouse. And Theo is somewhat smitten with a pretty classmate who needs his assistance to rescue her dog from the pound. Other than that, there’s not time for romance for Theodore Boone.

SUPERNATURAL ELEMENTS

None.

FOR DISCUSSION

What is Theo’s relationship like with his parents? Is it a typical parent/child relationship?

Does Theo use good judgement?

Does his book have a satisfactory ending? Why or why not?

AN INTERESTING NOTE…

Some parents of advanced readers might hesitate to encourage their kids to read Theodore Boone. It might seem a bit juvenile. This was the concern of the librarian where I teach high school when I recommended this book to a tenth grade student. Turns out the lexile level, or reading level, of Theodore Boone is higher than that of some of John Grisham’s other books for adults.

For more information on this book or the other books in the series, go to www.theodoreboone.com

Advertisements