Author Archives: T. P. Jagger

Not to Judge or Anything…

Recently, my father-in-law was called for jury duty and got selected. After the first couple of days of the rather long trial, he bemoaned the ten-dollars-a-day per diem. I may or may not have teased him. This was not wise. It’s not that my father-in-law is vindictive; he has a perfectly good sense of humor. My teasing was unwise for one simple reason—karma.

My call to jury duty arrived two days later.

Anyway, since my jury duty begins today, I decided to squeeze some extra good out of my civic duty. I’ve compiled a jury-duty inspired list of middle-grade books in which judges, lawyers, and/or courtrooms play key roles in the stories’ plots.

Theodore Boone: Kid LAwyer by John GrishamTheodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham: Well, the novel is written by John Grisham, so you know it involves lawyers. It’s just that in this story, the would-be-lawyer is only 13 years old.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket: In the first book from A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaire orphans are stuck in the not-so-pleasant home of Count Olaf but find kindness and occasional reprieve from their misery thanks to the judge who lives next door—Justice Strauss. They also find a law book in Justice Strauss’s library that helps them uncover Count Olaf’s plot for getting the Baudelaires’ fortune. (BONUS NOTE: This past Friday the 13th, Netflix launched the first 8 episodes of a new series based on Lemony Snicket’s books!)

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie ConnorAll Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor: Perry Cook has spent his entire life at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility where his mother is incarcerated. Then the district attorney yanks him out, and Perry has to work to get his mother released.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, the protagonist’s mom is a law-office secretary who dreams of going to law school in order to become a public defense lawyer.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin: In this classic novel, there’s a mysterious will . . . there’s a judge . . . and there’s a climactic scene in which middle-grade-aged Turtle acts as an attorney as she interrogates witnesses in order to solve the mystery.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her MarkI Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy: On the nonfiction side, this is a picture book biography about the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her fight for social justice and equality.

Do you have a favorite middle-grade book that fits into this judges-lawyers-courtrooms booklist? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it. I’ll probably even respond to your comment. But not until later. Because I’m kind of busy today. After all, I have jury duty.


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.

Memories-Part 2 (& Book Giveaway!)

A few days ago, I blogged about the important role that memories play in life and in writing. Today, I’d like to spin-off from that and look at a handful of middle-grade novels in which memories—shared, stored, hidden, and lost—play key roles in the stories’ plots.

written in stoneSHARED
Written in Stone by MUFs very own Rosanne Parry: Historical fiction that explores the importance of sharing memories as part of the cultural survival of the Quinault and Makah Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

STORED
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: People’s memories can be drawn from their minds then stored and viewed through the Pensieve. And those stored memories—Dumbledore’s, Snape’s, and others’—hold more than just a few surprises.

rules for stealing starsHIDDEN
Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu: Magic mingles with mystery as 11-year-old Silly (Priscilla) and her three sisters discover their closets are doorways to both dreamscapes and dangers…and to hidden memories of family secrets they never imagined.

LOST
The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari: After Charlie’s mother dies, his sister, Imogen, discovers a parallel universe where their mother remains alive. But something’s wrong. And if Charlie doesn’t figure out the truth, he could lose himself, the true memory of their mother, and Imogen…forever.

Dork-Diaries-11Finally, any booklist focused on memories would feel incomplete if it didn’t acknowledge the ultimate recorder of memories—a diary. That’s why MUF (thanks to Simon & Schuster) is giving one lucky commenter a free copy of Rachel Renée Russell’s latest book in the New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series—Dork Diaries 11: Tales from a Not-So-Friendly Frenemy.

Do you have a favorite middle-grade book that fits into this memories-focused booklist? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it . . . and earn a chance to win a free book in the process! (The winner must have a U.S. street address and will be drawn on Saturday, 19 November 2016.)


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.

Memories-Part 1

When I realized my MUF post fell on Veterans Day, I immediately thought I’d create a short blurb about the history of the day and provide a related booklist. Then two things happened. The first thing was that I sifted through MUF’s old posts. Jennifer Swanson beat me to my Veterans Day idea by three years. The second thing that happened was I thought about my grandpa.

1943 US Marine-WWII VeteranMy Grandpa Jagger served in the United States Marines during WWII. He drove a tank and was injured on a battered and bloody beach during the invasion of Saipan in 1944, earning a Purple Heart. Over 60 years later, I sat beside his chair, rested my hand in his, and listened as he shared about his military service.

Up until that day, I hadn’t allowed myself to consider that my grandfather held memories I would lose when he was gone. The only memories that wouldn’t fade would be those held by others. In that moment, I realized I wanted more than my memories of him; I wanted his memories, too. But those memories would soon be grains of sand swept to sea by the tides of time.

Unless I allowed myself to slow down and engage. To listen. To be present.

So that’s what I did.

Today, Veterans Day is the tide that carries those memories back to me, and I find myself reflecting on how my need to engage in the present also applies to my efforts as a writer.

In my fiction, it’s easy to get caught up and swept away in the “reality” of my own creation. However, even a fictional world and characters and events must feel real. They must ring true. To achieve that, I can’t allow myself to get lost in my own mind and musings. I need to pull memories and details and emotions from the very real world around me. I must be a participant in the world and an observer. A giver of truths and a collector. A sharer of memories and a gatherer.

I must take the time to slow down and engage. To listen. To be present.

That’s what I learned from my grandpa.

I hope you come back on Monday to read Part 2 of this post—a booklist of middle-grade novels in which memories (shared, stored, hidden, and lost) play key roles. In the meantime, take this Veterans Day to remember and honor the millions of men and women who have served and continue to serve our nation. And take a moment for memories, too.

To share them.

To build them.

To be present.


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.