Criminal Kids

Every Kid's guide to the Juvenile Justice System

Every Kid’s Guide to the Juvenile Justice System

Those of you who have been hanging around ALB for a while might recognize one of our “regulars”. (Here and here.) This time we have Berry tackling the serious issue of juvenile justice. To say that the look is a bit incongruous with the subject matter is an understatement.

The actual text isn’t bad for the late 1980s, but it does present a rather rosy view of how criminal justice works. I am quite certain that many non white folks are going to dispute this view. My other beef with this book is that I am not sure what age group she is targeting. The text is a bit dense for some elementary students but book looks like it might be targeting the young elementary.

Regardless of content, nonfiction or informational books really do need to define the target audience and present material in an appropriate way. I can see the older elementary crowd saying it looks young and the younger crowd becoming frustrated with the vocabulary.

Weed it and try something else.


what is a minor

getting arrested

probation officer

public defender



  1. Because, sure, going through the court system is best represented by colorful cartoons.

    I don’t think even in 1987, someone over 18 but under 21 was considered a juvenile anywhere in the US (except for the purposes of booze).

    I’m also pretty sure that young White kids would have gotten away with the “crimes” pictured here. Especially the girl TP’ing things, who probably would have gotten a warning and be made to clean it up. The brick throwing kid would have had to apologize and his parents pay for the window repair.

    And also, most kids are smart enough to do both those things at night!

    Does that dog have a license? What’s it doing in court? What’s it add to the book’s value?

    1. In my city there’s a tradition of graduating seniors TPing a specific park. In the 20+ years of them doing it they’ve never gotten into trouble until 2 years ago. And everyone in the city was up in arms about the kids being in trouble. The park is part of federally protected land, BTW, if that makes a difference.

  2. Apparently the dog has been taking notes while reading Snoopy in the Peanuts comics. What a glory-hound.

  3. A kid I knew back in the day went to juvie for breaking into a house and burglarizing it because “I was bored.” Then he had the brilliant idea of writing his name on the things he stole to trick the cops into thinking they belonged to him. Surprisingly, they weren’t fooled.

    Kids are dumb.

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