All Rise For The Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor is an amazing book that deserves much praise. The main character, Perry T. Cook, is a perfectly regular kid… except for the fact that he was born in a jail because his mom is an inmate there. He’s lived there all his life, and the bullies at school use that as a way to tease Perry. But Perry will always have his friend Zoey Samuels at his side. It’s true… but not in the way Perry thinks. When Zoey’s stepdad—a law attorney named Thomas VanLeer, who pokes his nose into everything—finds out that Perry is living in a jail, he decides it is unacceptable. Thomas VanLeer has a plan, and it includes adopting Perry T. Cook and uprooting his life as a result. Can Perry save his mom and himself from being separated?
This story is really made up of two plots with two settings: home and school. Perry just wants to get to his real home, the Blue River jail, with his mom and the rest of his family, the other inmates. But this plot slithers into the school plot: Perry’s school assignment. Perry has to write an essay or make some other form of project, and it has to be about his family. It’s the same assignment Perry’s class gets every year. Perry’s teacher is super nice, but she’s not going to give Perry a different topic for his presentation. Perry’s going to have to face the fact that his mother is in jail, and he hatches a plan to collect all of the inmates' stories of how they got stuck in jail. Perry learns his mother’s story and begins to unravel a mystery surrounding it.
While I recommend All Rise For The Honorable Perry T. Cook, the story also has several flaws. Some of the life stories are unrealistic. Mr. Krensky, for example, the grumpy, mean inmate, stole money and used it to buy himself a mansion and all sorts of fancy and expensive things. We have to question, knowing that this novel is realistic fiction, would this really happen? However, besides Mr. Krensky, the novel is pretty truthful in the matters of how many of these people are in jail because of need or accident. Mrs. DiCoco is a woman who hurt her back, got addicted to painkillers, and eventually began stealing money so that she could afford more. Mr. Rojas started an illegal gambling ring to get enough money to send his two daughters to college. It is true that United States prisons have more people in them than anywhere else in the world, even countries that have greater populations than we do. A lot of people in jail shouldn’t be there, and should instead have help. While this book addresses this, it addresses it without criticizing the idea of prisons, prison wardens, and other people like that, who make sure that the lives of people in prison are miserable. In All Rise For The Honorable Perry T. Cook, the warden is “kind,” and Perry’s mother eventually becomes the new prison warden after the old warden retires. This seems a bit ironic, seeing as Perry’s mother was an inmate; the oppressed become the oppressors.
Overall, while reading The Honorable Perry T. Cook, I want you to enjoy the story while thinking about its problems and the entire world we live in, which forces people to do bad things and then puts them in a “correctional facility.” Still, The Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor is an amazing book by an amazing author.
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor. Katherine Tegen Books, 2017. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!