Reviews for Activist
Booklist Reviews 2015 November #2
Book five in this continuing story of a murder trial gone awry finds Theo Boone in a predicament that involves the escaped murderer, the FBI, and an undocumented immigrant. On his eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., Theo recognizes a man on the Metro to be Pete Duffy, the man accused of murdering his wife back home. Theo calls Ike--his uncle who served prison time--who helps confirm the man's identity. When the FBI brings Duffy back to Strattenburg for a second trial, Theo can't stay away from the courthouse, consequently putting himself and the case in jeopardy. Grisham, known for his adult legal thrillers, still isn't at ease writing for a younger audience. The prose is wooden and overly didactic, while Theo lacks much in the way of personality, and other characters come across as stereotypes. Nevertheless, the saving grace of this novel, and the series in general, is the unique concept of having a middle-schooler protagonist who is also a legal-eagle-in-training. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Booklist Reviews 2011 July #1
Fresh off assisting with a murder trial in Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (2010), 13-year-old legal enthusiast Theo is plunged into another case when his best friend, April, vanishes. All signs point to kidnapping: a distant cousin to April recently escaped prison and is arrested in their small town, but he won't give up any information without a cushy deal from the authorities. After the alarming false alarm of a dead body dredged from the river, Theo can wait no longer and embarks upon his own investigation. As with the first book in the series, Theo frequently turns to adults for help--a welcome jolt of realism in a world filled with superpowered young protagonists. At the same time, though, this dims the excitement level, as does the relatively low-key second half of the book, in which the solution to the mystery is revealed to be pretty much what the adults had guessed. The pages turn quickly regardless, and there is so little pure crime fiction for this age range that this series has intrinsic value. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Booklist Reviews 2010 June #1
After years of taking on lawyers of the adult persuasion, best-selling writer Grisham turns to a lawyer who's only 13. Well, Theo Boone hasn't taken the bar, but he offers advice to his friends, hangs out at the courthouse, and watches Perry Mason reruns. Things turn serious, however, when a witness to a murder, a young illegal immigrant, comes to Theo with evidence. The trial is in full swing, and it looks like the defendant will walk unless Theo comes forward. But he's promised the young man he will keep his identity confidential. What should he do? Grisham doesn't have the whole writing-for-kids thing down quite yet. His style, a little stiff, sometimes seems as if it's written for an earlier era. In one howler, he introduces Theo's teacher: "He always addressed them as ‘men' and for thirteen-year-olds there was no greater compliment." The moral dilemma Grisham poses is interesting, but when Theo (logically) calls in the adults, it loses tension. Problem-solver Theo sometimes seems like a sophisticated Encylopedia Brown, and as with the boy detective, expect to see more of him. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
Always-noble-intentioned Theo Boone, son of lawyers and aspiring attorney himself, returns for another entertaining good-guys-versus-bad-guys ethical fight. Strattenburg is hot with debate over a planned highway bypass that opponents like Theo claim will pollute the air, take away valuable personal property, and fill crooked pockets. Grisham's pacing is steady, and he provides plenty of background for readers new to the series.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Theo Boone, whose parents are lawyers, has the sharpest legal mind at Strattenburg's middle school. A big murder trial based on circumstantial evidence creates a platform for him. Grisham serves up a dandy legal adventure that moves along quickly. Without intruding on the story's trajectory, he gives plenty of background about the legal process and explores various ethical questions. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Theo (Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer) returns for another investigative page-turner full of accessible legal jargon and kid-appropriate ethical issues. When best friend April mysteriously disappears, Theo and friends take matters into their own hands, scouring their town for clues and stepping on police toes. Sharp-witted, strong-willed Theo persists as an entertaining protagonist in Grisham's second suspenseful thriller for middle graders.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2016 Spring
In the fifth Theodore Boone book, Theo spots accused murderer Pete Duffy during a school trip in Washington, DC, leading to the fugitive's capture and murder trial. Unless Theo can convince the prosecution's star witness to testify, Duffy may go free--and this kid lawyer won't accept that outcome. This middle-grade courtroom drama's draw is Grisham's trademark suspenseful pacing.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #5
Theo Boone has the sharpest legal mind at Strattenburg's middle school. His mother is a divorce lawyer, his father a real-estate attorney, and Theo, well versed in the law, gives free legal advice to his classmates. But it's criminal law that intrigues Theo: he wants to be a trial lawyer. "Most of his classmates dreamed of getting tickets to the big game or concert. Theo Boone lived for the big trials." As in his works for adults, Grisham introduces fairly one-dimensional characters (Theo, except for a penchant for hacking, is close to being the perfect child). But plot is Grisham's forte, and here he serves up a dandy legal adventure that runs at a lesser pace than his adult books do but nonetheless moves along quickly. A big murder trial based on circumstantial evidence creates a platform for Theo, in his informal role as legal advisor, to learn of an undocumented El Salvadorian eyewitness. Without intruding on the trajectory of the story, Grisham gives plenty of background about the legal process and explores various ethical questions concerning Theo's newfound information. Maybe a guilty pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless. betty carter Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 May #5
Grisham, a bestseller-list fixture with his legal thrillers, makes his children's book debut with a series opener that lacks thrills. The only child of two attorneys, Theo Boone is an endearing oddball, an eighth-grader who still thinks girls have cooties, but who knows every lawyer, bailiff, and judge in town. There's an underdeveloped subplot about a best friend whose parents are divorcing, but Theo's contacts with peers mainly consist of him playing lawyer--advising one boy to have his parents file for bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure, reassuring another about his brother's drug arrest, and in the main thread, producing an eyewitness to a murder for which the prosecuting attorney, heretofore, had only circumstantial evidence. He's less a real kid than an adult's projection of what an ideal kid might be like--determined to be the "most talented linguist" in his Spanish class and appreciative of the scruffy charms of the local college team's baseball stadium. The book is smoothly written, and there's a mild tutorial on the criminal justice system ("Theo knew that in 65 percent of murder cases the defendant does not testify..."). What there isn't is any excitement. Ages 8-12. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2010 June
Gr 6-8-- While the ending may be anticlimactic, Grisham brings to his crossover bid the lapidary prose and frank insider's view of this country's legal system that makes his adult best sellers so absorbing. Only 13 but already so much a lawyer in his own mind that he keeps an "office" at home and dispenses legal advice to classmates and even adults, Theo finds himself in over his head when he's told in strict confidence that there's an eyewitness to a high-profile local murder whose perp is about to walk due to lack of evidence. That witness is an illegal immigrant, and so is understandably afraid of coming forward. What to do? Grisham injects occasional side remarks into the narrative (students in Theo's school are gender-separated "according to a new policy adopted by the smart people in charge of educating all the children in town,") and he embroiders Theo's dilemma with intriguing public and behind-the-scenes looks at courts, lawyers, and the realities of the judicial process. He also sets up the plot to move in ominous directions in future episodes--which partly, at least, compensates for leaving the murder trial unresolved at the end of this one. Expect heavy publicity-driven demand.-John Peters, New York Public Library [Page 102]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2013 December
Eighth grader Theodore Boone is wise beyond his years, so it should be no surprise when the latest trouble to hit town comes knocking on his door, even if it has to speed along a recently proposed highway bypass to get there. When Theo agrees to help a friend save his family farm threatened by the new road, it requires his best legal know-how, strongest debating skills, and more than a little courage from his dog, Judge This fourth entry into the middle school series featuring Theodore Boone continues to deliver the old-fashioned values of a traditional family, the rewards and challenges of living in a small town, and lessons learned from supporting a cause with personal meaning. There are some discordant notes, like when Theo does not know what it means to be an activist but can give the history and definition of eminent domain, or when he must clearly understand attorney-client privilege but looks through a closed client file anyway. But it is the fast-paced story filled with a wide range of likable characters and challenging ideas that could prompt interesting discussions that make this book appealing. In the end, both boys and girls will enjoy experiencing one more adventure-filled episode in the life of this modern-day Encyclopedia Brown.--Stacey Hayman 3Q 3P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.
VOYA Reviews 2010 October
Theo's mom is a divorce lawyer with a preference for representing the wives, and his dad is a real estate attorney. He may only be thirteen, but he already knows he'll be a lawyer or a judge one day. In fact, kids at school already ask him for legal advice on a variety of issues, and Theo's happy to help, even when his assistance leads to his involvement in one of the biggest events of Strattenburg's history--the murder trial of Peter Duffy. A boy Theo is tutoring in algebra asks for assistance on behalf of his cousin, a young man who may be a key witness in a case that's light on concrete evidence. Can Theo help solve this complicated tangle of legal threads so the guilty are convicted and the innocent go free A book that introduces teen readers to the intricacies of the legal world is a pretty clever premise for creating a potentially long and beloved series. It was surprising, however, to find some odd inconsistencies in a work by such an accomplished author, such as Theo explaining bankruptcy law to another teen but not understanding being held in contempt of court, or his parents being devoted to him, yet he spends most of his time unsupervised. Hopefully these details will be ironed out and Theo will go on to become the Encyclopedia Brown of his generation.--Stacey Hayman 3Q 4P M J Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.