Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

by John Grisham


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With two attorneys for parents, thirteen-year-old Theodore Boone knows more about the law than most lawyers do. But when a high-profile murder trial comes to his small town and Theo gets pulled into it, it's up to this amateur attorney to save the day.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525423843
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Series: Theodore Boone Series , #1
Pages: 263
Sales rank: 270,005
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

John Grisham is the author of a collection of stories, a work of nonfiction, three sports novels, four kids' books, and many legal thrillers. His work has been translated into forty-two languages. He lives near Charlottesville, Virginia.


Oxford, Mississippi, and Albemarle County, Virginia

Date of Birth:

February 8, 1955

Place of Birth:

Jonesboro, Arkansas


B.S., Mississippi State, 1977; J.D., University of Mississippi, 1981

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Theodore Boone was an only child and for that reason usually had breakfast alone. His father, a busy lawyer, was in the habit of leaving early and meeting friends for coffee and gossip at the same downtown diner every morning at seven. Theo's mother, herself a busy lawyer, had been trying to lose ten pounds for at least the past ten years, and because of this she'd convinced herself that breakfast should be nothing more than coffee with the newspaper. So he ate by himself at the kitchen table, cold cereal and orange juice, with an eye on the clock. The Boone home had clocks everywhere, clear evidence of organized people.

Actually, he wasn't completely alone. Beside his chair, his dog ate, too. Judge was a thoroughly mixed mutt whose age and breeding would always be a mystery. Theo had rescued him from near death with a last-second appearance in Animal Court two years earlier, and Judge would always be grateful. He preferred Cheerios, same as Theo, and they ate together in silence every morning.

At 8:00 a.m., Theo rinsed their bowls in the sink, placed the milk and juice back in the fridge, walked to the den, and kissed his mother on the cheek. "Off to school," he said.

"Do you have lunch money?" she asked, the same question five mornings a week.


"And your homework is complete?"

"It's perfect, Mom."

"And I'll see you when?"

"I'll stop by the office after school." Theo stopped by the office every day after school, without fail, but Mrs. Boone always asked.

"Be careful," she said. "And remember to smile." The braces on his teeth had now been in place for over two years and Theo wanted desperately to get rid of them. In the meantime, though, his mother continually reminded him to smile and make the world a happier place.

"I'm smiling, Mom."

"Love you, Teddy."

"Love you back."

Theo, still smiling in spite of being called "Teddy," flung his backpack across his shoulders, scratched Judge on the head and said good-bye, then left through the kitchen door. He hopped on his bike and was soon speeding down Mallard Lane, a narrow leafy street in the oldest section of town. He waved at Mr. Nunnery, who was already on his porch and settled in for another long day of watching what little traffic found its way into their neighborhood, and he whisked by Mrs. Goodloe at the curb without speaking because she'd lost her hearing and most of her mind as well. He did smile at her, though, but she did not return the smile. Her teeth were somewhere in the house.

It was early spring and the air was crisp and cool. Theo pedaled quickly, the wind stinging his face. Homeroom was at eight forty and he had important matters before school. He cut through a side street, darted down an alley, dodged some traffic, and ran a stop sign. This was Theo's turf, the route he traveled every day. After four blocks the houses gave way to offices and shops and stores.

The county courthouse was the largest building in downtown Strattenburg (the post office was second, the library third). It sat majestically on the north side of Main Street, halfway between a bridge over the river and a park filled with gazebos and birdbaths and monuments to those killed in wars. Theo loved the courthouse, with its air of authority, and people hustling importantly about, and somber notices and schedules tacked to the bulletin boards. Most of all, Theo loved the courtrooms themselves. There were small ones where more private matters were handled without juries, then there was the main courtroom on the second floor where lawyers battled like gladiators and judges ruled like kings.

At the age of thirteen, Theo was still undecided about his future. One day he dreamed of being a famous trial lawyer, one who handled the biggest cases and never lost before juries. The next day he dreamed of being a great judge, noted for his wisdom and fairness. He went back and forth, changing his mind daily.

The main lobby was already busy on this Monday morning, as if the lawyers and their clients wanted an early start to the week. There was a crowd waiting by the elevator, so Theo raced up two flights of stairs and down the east wing where Family Court was held. His mother was a noted divorce lawyer, one who always represented the wife, and Theo knew this area of the building well. Since divorce trials were decided by judges, juries were not used, and since most judges preferred not to have large groups of spectators observing such sensitive matters, the courtroom was small. By its door, several lawyers huddled importantly, obviously not agreeing on much. Theo searched the hallway, then turned a corner and saw his friend.

She was sitting on one of the old wooden benches, alone, small and frail and nervous. When she saw him she smiled and put a hand over her mouth. Theo hustled over and sat next to her, very closely, knees touching. With any other girl he would have placed himself at least two feet away and prevented any chance of contact.

But April Finnemore was not just any girl. They had started prekindergarten together at the age of four at a nearby church school, and they had been close friends since they could remember. It wasn't a romance; they were too young for that. Theo did not know of a single thirteen-year-old boy in his class who admitted to having a girlfriend. Just the opposite. They wanted nothing to do with them. And the girls felt the same way. Theo had been warned that things would change, and dramatically, but that seemed unlikely.

April was just a friend, and one in a great deal of need at the moment. Her parents were divorcing, and Theo was extremely grateful his mother was not involved with the case.

The divorce was no surprise to anyone who knew the Finnemores. April's father was an eccentric antiques dealer and the drummer for an old rock band that still played in nightclubs and toured for weeks at a time. Her mother raised goats and made goat cheese, which she peddled around town in a converted funeral hearse, painted bright yellow. An ancient spider monkey with gray whiskers rode shotgun and munched on the cheese, which had never sold very well. Mr. Boone had once described the family as "nontraditional," which Theo took to mean downright weird. Both her parents had been arrested on drug charges, though neither had served time.

"Are you okay?" Theo asked.

"No," she said. "I hate being here."

She had an older brother named August and an older sister named March, and both fled the family. August left the day after he graduated from high school. March dropped out at the age of sixteen and left town, leaving April as the only child for her parents to torment. Theo knew all of this because April told him everything. She had to. She needed someone outside of her family to confide in, and Theo was her listener.

"I don't want to live with either one of them," she said. It was a terrible thing to say about one's parents, but Theo understood completely. He despised her parents for the way they treated her. He despised them for the chaos of their lives, for their neglect of April, for their cruelty to her. Theo had a long list of grudges against Mr. and Mrs. Finnemore. He would run away before being forced to live there. He did not know of a single kid in town who'd ever set foot inside the Finnemore home.

The divorce trial was in its third day, and April would soon be called to the witness stand to testify. The judge would ask her the fateful question, "April, which parent do you want to live with?"

And she did not know the answer. She had discussed it for hours with Theo, and she still did not know what to say.

The great question in Theo's mind was, "Why did either parent want custody of April?" Each had neglected her in so many ways. He had heard many stories, but he had never repeated a single one.

"What are you going to say?" he asked.

"I'm telling the judge that I want to live with my aunt Peg in Denver."

"I thought she said no."

"She did."

"Then you can't say that."

"What can I say, Theo?"

"My mother would say that you should choose your mother. I know she's not your first choice, but you don't have a first choice."

"But the judge can do whatever he wants, right?"

"Right. If you were fourteen, you could make a binding decision. At thirteen, the judge will only consider your wishes. According to my mother, this judge almost never awards custody to the father. Play it safe. Go with your mother."

April wore jeans, hiking boots, and a navy sweater. She rarely dressed like a girl, but her gender was never in doubt. She wiped a tear from her cheek, but managed to keep her composure. "Thanks, Theo," she said.

"I wish I could stay."

"And I wish I could go to school."

They both managed a forced laugh. "I'll be thinking about you. Be strong."

"Thanks, Theo."

His favorite judge was the Honorable Henry Gantry, and he entered the great man's outer office at twenty minutes after 8:00 a.m.

"Well, good morning, Theo," Mrs. Hardy said. She was stirring something into her coffee and preparing to begin her work.

"Morning, Mrs. Hardy," Theo said with a smile.

"And to what do we owe this honor?" she asked. She was not quite as old as Theo's mother, he guessed, and she was very pretty. She was Theo's favorite of all the secretaries in the courthouse. His favorite clerk was Jenny over in Family Court.

"I need to see Judge Gantry," he replied. "Is he in?"

"Well, yes, but he's very busy."

"Please. It'll just take a minute."

She sipped her coffee, then asked, "Does this have anything to do with the big trial tomorrow?"

"Yes, ma'am, it does. I'd like for my Government class to watch the first day of the trial, but I gotta make sure there will be enough seats."

"Oh, I don't know about that, Theo," Mrs. Hardy said, frowning and shaking her head. "We're expecting an overflow crowd. Seating will be tight."

"Can I talk to the judge?"

"How many are in your class?"

"Sixteen. I thought maybe we could sit in the balcony."

She was still frowning as she picked up the phone and pushed a button. She waited for a second, then said, "Yes, Judge, Theodore Boone is here and would like to see you. I told him you are very busy." She listened some more, then put down the phone. "Hurry," she said, pointing to the judge's door.

Seconds later, Theo stood before the biggest desk in town, a desk covered with all sorts of papers and files and thick binders, a desk that symbolized the enormous power held by Judge Henry Gantry, who, at that moment, was not smiling. In fact, Theo was certain the judge had not cracked a smile since he'd interrupted his work. Theo, though, was pressing hard with a prolonged flash of metal from ear to ear.

"State your case," Judge Gantry said. Theo had heard him issue this command on many occasions. He'd seen lawyers, good lawyers, rise and stutter and search for words while Judge Gantry scowled down from the bench. He wasn't scowling now, nor was he wearing his black robe, but he was still intimidating. As Theo cleared his throat, he saw an unmistakable twinkle in his friend's eye.

"Yes, sir, well, my Government teacher is Mr. Mount, and Mr. Mount thinks we might get approval from the principal for an all-day field trip to watch the opening of the trial tomorrow." Theo paused, took a deep breath, told himself again to speak clearly, slowly, forcefully, like all great trial lawyers. "But, we need guaranteed seats. I was thinking we could sit in the balcony."

"Oh, you were?"

"Yes, sir."

"How many?"

"Sixteen, plus Mr. Mount."

The judge picked up a file, opened it, and began reading as if he'd suddenly forgotten about Theo standing at attention across the desk. Theo waited for an awkward fifteen seconds. Then the judge abruptly said, "Seventeen seats, front balcony, left side. I'll tell the bailiff to seat you at ten minutes before nine, tomorrow. I expect perfect behavior."

"No problem, sir."

"I'll have Mrs. Hardy e-mail a note to your principal."

"Thanks, Judge."

"You can go now, Theo. Sorry to be so busy."

"No problem, sir."

Theo was scurrying toward the door when the judge said, "Say, Theo. Do you think Mr. Duffy is guilty?"

Theo stopped, turned around and without hesitating responded, "He's presumed innocent."

"Got that. But what's your opinion as to his guilt?"

"I think he did it."

The judge nodded slightly but gave no indication of whether he agreed.

"What about you?" Theo asked.

Finally, a smile. "I'm a fair and impartial referee, Theo. I have no preconceived notions of guilt or innocence."

"That's what I thought you'd say."

"See you tomorrow." Theo cracked the door and hustled out.

Mrs. Hardy was on her feet, hands on hips, staring down two flustered lawyers who were demanding to see the judge. All three clammed up when Theo walked out of Judge Gantry's office. He smiled at Mrs. Hardy as he walked hurriedly by. "Thanks," he said as he opened the door and disappeared.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Not since Nancy Drew has a nosy, crime-obsessed kid been so hard to resist." -The New York Times

"Classic Grisham." -The Los Angeles Times

Customer Reviews

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Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 309 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book it was realy captivating i read it non stop i recomend the sisters grimm, a wrinkle in time, and the boxcar children. Sincerly, The big bad wolf A.K.A J.D.G
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When Pete Duffley is accused of murdering his wife only one person can get the evidence to convict him. Theodore Boone, son of two lawyers, and a very good advisor himself. Finds the evidence to covict Mr. Duffley. This book hold many twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages, as fast as Theo collects the evidence. I am a avid mystery reader and movie watcher, and when it comes to a good book... the novel Grisham has constructed barely trails Sir Aurthur Connan Dolye.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book can't wait to finish the entire series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In searching for something appropriate for young teenage grandson, was very happy to discover John Grisham is now writing for that age group. Hope that he continues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well, John Grisham is known to make more adult books. But this book has proven that he can write tween books. I love this book so much and this is a real "under the covers" read! Recomened!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This could have been a great book had the author fiished the story. I almost felt he got bored writing it and sent it to the publisher with out an ending. Then it seems that the publisher knowing what a great writter Grisham usually is chose not to question him and sent the book to print. Were they all thinking, well it has the Grisham name people will buy it with out reading reviews... I wish I had done so before spending the money on it. I usually love Grisham and read his books in less than a day. I had to force myself to get through this one and it took 4 days...that is unheard of for me especially considering the book is only146 pgs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AMAZING!!!!!John Grisham i an amazing author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It will leave you on the edge of you seat till the end . Must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love love love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! Its a bit boring in the very beginning but after that, this book is exceptional! Loved it and I hope you will love it too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was truly amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I needed a book that was like the firm but not as adultish. What i got was this. The beginning throuh middle was one of the best subjects I've ever read. But then near the end i found myself rushed. It was almost like Mr. John got borred writing the book and decided to stop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was really good except for the ending it was kinda slow overall great book i hopethere are more comin
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved,loved,loved this book. John Grisham wrote this novel as a very detailed amazing mystery. (John Grisham) Theodore taught and informed me so much about the law.
yearningtoread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Theodore Boone is one smart kid. With both parents as lawyers, he knows more about the law and what goes on in a courtroom than a lot of lawyers. Certainly more than your average pre-teen. He knows all the judges, what they do, and who works under them. He knows how each trial should go. He gives advice to his eight grade (and under) friends who have legal and financial family issues. He¿s a good kid, wanting to help his community through law, and is trying to decide whether or not he wants to be a lawyer or a judge. In Theo¿s small town in New York, the usual cases aren¿t much of an excitement. But now there has been a murder, and Theo, an eighth grader with a sharp mind and a love for law, is the only one who knows the truth ¿ and he doesn¿t knw what to do with it. I have to say: as much as I was looking forward to reading this book, I wasn¿t that impressed. The description makes it sound intense, but it really isn¿t. This involves maybe half the book. The rest is preparing the audience (aimed for the younger bunch) for what lies in store¿such as where each person in court sits and what they do; or it is a collection of smaller cases that Theo works on with his friends who need his help¿such as a boy whose family is about to lose their house, or a girl whose parents are about to get a divorce. And while learning about all these different areas of law is interesting, it¿s NOT what the description is promising. Which is very disappointing. I think this is a great book if you want to learn about law and the different areas and how exactly things go on in a court room, with no surprise witnesses and whatnot (like you see on TV). But if you¿re looking for a fast-paced novel with twists and suspense, this is not the book for you. It only really starts to get interesting in the end; but still, I don¿t think I want to read the next one. Too much of the first one was iffy, and I don¿t want to waste my time. A couple of good things about the book¿ I felt like it had a lot of character. Theo¿s life is very ¿perfect¿ in a sense. His parents are both very organized. Theo has a schedule he has to keep to ¿ and wants to keep to. The Boone¿s lives are straight-forward, getting things done. It helped the story a lot. The way Grisham describes each and every lawyer, secretary, suspect, witness and judge is bright and gives life to the book. Because of this, I think I would enjoy one of Grisham¿s older novels. Still, overall, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer was a disappointment for someone who was expecting the fast-paced story the description makes it sound like.
burnit99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Theo Boone, 13, child of two lawyers, dreams of being a great lawyer someday. He haunts the courts, knows the judges, police and court employees of his small town, and uses his legal insight to help friends when they need legal advice. He is inadvertently dragged into the most sensational murder trial to hit town in years when he discovers that the investigation has taken a wrong turn, and the actual killer may go free. This is an intriguing and well-paced book, aimed at younger readers but a good read for adults too. The ending did not quite wrap things up, and I would hope this portends at least one more book to come.
ChristianR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not quite sure which readers will take to this book. It's a nice story about a murder trial. Theo Boone, an 8th grader, learns some relevant information about the murder while the trial is taking place. A rather good explanation of how trials work. My hesitation is that Theo is a perfect type of kid (in adults' eyes) -- good student, polite to others, conscientious, and really, really interested and informed about the law. He knows all of the judges and lawyers in his town and follows trials very closely. He's not the type of character that current readers connect with, but Grisham has been very successful with his adult books and perhaps knows something I don't about what kids want. A nice read.
koenigp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great read! Theodore Boone is an 8th grade student who is growing up in a family of lawyers. He wants to be one when he grows up, now all the kids in his school ask his advice. He becomes the center of a muder trial.
Booklady123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John GrishamThirteen year old Theodore Boone is surrounded by lawyers. Both of his parents are lawyers. His Uncle Ike, is a former lawyer. He knows almost all the lawyers at the courthouse where he spends as much time as he can. It¿s no wonder Theo considers himself a lawyer or at least a lawyer in training. Theo spends his days doing all his homework, visiting Uncle Ike once a week, getting dogs released from animal court and offer advice to both kids and adults. Soon Theo finds himself caught up in a high profile murder trial. Theo knows a secret, one that could impact the outcome of the trial. The only problem is that he¿s sworn to secrecy. What¿s a kid lawyer to do?John Grisham is an excellent storyteller, but he misses the mark on this one. While Grisham does an excellent job of explaining the legal system in young adult terms, the story lacks the intense pace and excitement needed to engage teens. Theo is a character with a lot of potential but unfortunately comes across rather flat and at times seems too good to be true. Grisham seems out of touch with real kids. Hardly any of the teens have cell phones. Just take a walk down any real middle school hallway and you¿ll see that¿s not the case with real teens. Early in the book Theo states that he doesn¿t know a "single thirteen-year-old boy who admitted to having a girlfriend. Just the opposite. They wanted nothing to do with them. And the girls felt the same way. Theo had been warned that things would change, and dramatically, but that seemed unlikely." (7). That does not mesh with what I have experienced as an elementary and teen services librarian. And finally, the ending was very disappointing. In fact it didn¿t seem like an ending at all. I¿ve read reviews that indicate this is the beginning of a series. Perhaps the ending was supposed to be a cliffhanger, but it fell short. Possibly all will be revealed in the next installment (provided there is one). Readers who picked up this book expecting Grisham¿s usual stellar work will be disappointed. If it is a series, they may not return to see if it improves.
MsLangdon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Part D PopularGrisham, J. (2010). Theodore Boone: kid lawyer. New York: Dutton Children¿s Books.At only thirteen years old, Theodore Boone is giving legal advice. He comes from a family of lawyers and already knows that he wants to be a lawyer, or maybe a judge. Theo finds himself in the middle of the biggest murder trial the small city of Strattenburg has ever seen. The defendant is up for murder and the prosecution has a weak case against him. But Theo knows about some evidence and an unidentified witness that could turn the trial around. Grisham¿s Theodore Boone is a young character with positive qualities, looking for justice. He is honest, caring, and promotes academics. The suspenseful story keeps the reader intrigued and wanting to know more about what will happen with Theo and the murder trial. With the exception of April, Theo¿s best friend, each of the characters is well developed. On the other hand, April is introduced in the first chapter and then does not play a significant role in the story. When she is mentioned it seems as though she is an afterthought. Ages 9-12.
wiccked on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this. Very light, and easy to read.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
13 year old Theodore Boone is the only son of two lawyers; a real estate lawyer and a divorce lawyer. As a result of his parentage, Theodore is very into courtrooms and the legal process. When a big murder trial happens in his small city, Theodore is naturally quite interested, even before he becomes personally involved. Unexpectedly, he soon knows much more about the case than he wants to know, and he is really stuck with what he knows and all the people he can't tell, but should. This was an okay read; I enjoyed the legal aspects of the book, but really felt like Grisham had no idea how a thirteen year old boy actually worked, especially when he said they had no interest in girls and made Theodore run the class. Clearly, he hasn't been around many thirteen year old boys lately since they wouldn't behave the way he suggested. I also felt that the way so much of the book wasn't really concluded, it seemed like he was intentionally leaving open the possibility of a sequel, in an awkwardly executed fashion. Other than those two criticisms, the book is an enjoyable read.
starspangle95 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My mom and grandma are both fans of the John Grisham books, so I decided to try this out. It's a good story, and for most of the book, I couldn't put it down. However, the whole point of the book seems to shift and the ending leaves you hanging. There are a lot of unanswered questions and the book just doesn't end well.
DrApple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer is John Grisham¿s first attempt at young adult literature. Although only 13, Theo Boones is something of a legal expert. The child or lawyers, he has been raised around the courthouse and is very knowledgeable about the legal system. He even provides free legal advice for students in his class at school.In this novel, Theo is excited about being able to watch the proceedings of a murder trial. This is, by far, the most sensational trial Theo has ever been able to witness. During the proceedings, Theo becomes privy to information about the murder that is not known by the attorneys or the judge. He has to determine how to protect his source without letting a cold-blooded killer go free.This book will grow on you. Initially, I felt that the legal information might be boring to young readers, but soon the characters, particularly Theo, and the murder trial will catch your attention and keep you reading.