As I perused the shelf at the library I saw this book and thought, "Wow, I didn't know John Grisham wrote anything for kids." John Grisham, of course, is a hugely famous writer of legal thrillers. Several of his books have been made in movies, and he has sold hundreds of millions of copies world wide. But being a good writer for adults doesn't necessarily make you a good writer for children, as this book proves.
In this book, Theodore is the son of two lawyers. He has grown up hanging around the court house, and is obsessed with the law and everything related to court. It is an interesting and fresh premise. I think the problem is that Mr. Grisham knows the law too well. He asked himself, "what could a child realistically do to influence a real court case?", and the answer is, "not much." That is exactly what Theodore does. He gives legal advice to his friends whose dogs get caught by animal control, or whose parents are in foreclosure. But in the main case of the book, a murder trial, the whole book consists of him trying to get the courage to tell someone that he knows of a surprise witness. Once he does, the adults take over, and he watches as they resolve the issue. It is all very reasonable and realistic, but not very interesting. There is even a goon in the book, that suspects that Theodore is about to ruin his client's defense, but all he does is glare at the boy. He doesn't even say anything threatening. Anyway, there is probably some boy, just like Theodore, who is a total legal geek, who will love this book. Most young readers would do better with Alex Rider, or Sammy Keyes. (263 p)