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 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 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 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.
Along 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.