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The Doll Dilemma & The Go-Kartastrope

Book Reviews

The Doll Dilemma & The Go-KartastropeLawyer parents — back again, this book review is for you! This mother-daughter author duo is back by special request from fellow female lawyer, mother, and author Caron Pescatore who wrote A Kids’ Court Whodunit series to educate her children and others about the legal profession. In a fun and mentally stimulating format for students aged 8 to 11, Pescatore’s short chapter books introduce the court system and legal terminology in a digestible format for young readers. Each story begins with a familiar scene — two kids arguing over who did what. In one story, Jenny accuses Jimmy of pulling the head off her doll. In the other, Greg accuses Declan of wrecking the go-kart. That’s where Luana’s bright idea comes in: Kids’ Court — a court by kids for kids. Influenced by her lawyer parents, Luana explains the best way to find the truth is to go to court. The critical roles of judge, lawyer, bailiff, court reporter, and investigator are identified. The arguing parties agree to resolve their conflicts in Kids’ Court, so Luana recruits neighborhood kids to fill the roles. A helpful visualization, each book contains a Kids’ Court staff photo lineup. Throughout the books, legal terminology is explained in thoughtful ways. When Plaintiff’s lawyer Mary Beth “rests” her case and Jake asks if she is tired, Luana explains that means she is finished presenting her case. This lawyer mom was delighted to have my bibliophile pause throughout the books asking questions about the meaning of this or that. Both books present a similar concept. The content related to court foundational knowledge is alike but reinforced through two different “kid crimes.” With six books in the series, young readers will easily master the core concepts of a real court case and how the court system operates.

Set up in Luana’s basement, the mock court mirrors reality. In The Doll Dilemma, the lawyers ask questions of defendant Jimmy and witnesses, sometimes struggling over the proper form. Evidence (the doll body) is examined and, with the judge’s permission, the parties go to witness Declan’s bedroom to personally view his vantage point. With court adjourned for the day, Luana, as Jimmy’s defense lawyer, finds herself lying in bed thinking about the evidence and testimony — something lawyers often do. With her mom’s probing, Luana’s memory triggers — Rufus the dog has a habit of stealing toys, digging holes, and burying them! The next morning, defense investigator Phoebe and Luana go digging for the truth and find Jenny’s doll head in Rufus’s dirt hidey-hole. With convincing exculpatory evidence, Judge Heather ultimately finds Jimmy not guilty. Friends throughout, the case ends with a discussion about replacing Jenny’s doll. As the story draws to a close, Judge Heather overhears two boys arguing about a go-kart not working. With a knowing laugh, Heather, Luana, and Phoebe agree that Kids’ Court will soon be in session again. Books like Pescatore’s pique the interest of young minds that can blossom into future lawyers.

Lyndsey E. Siara is a member of The Florida Bar.