All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook Book Poster Image
Warm, moving story of remarkable boy who calls prison home.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Sensitive portrayal of the rhythm of prison life. Encourages readers to consider different perspectives. Big Ed's mottos provide philosophical food for thought.

Positive Messages

You can't rewrite your history, but your past doesn't define your future. Life is a journey: Focus on where you plan to go and who you want to be, then do the work needed to get there. Family comes in all shapes and sizes. Guilt, innocence, responsibility, and fairness aren't always black and white. Acknowledging a mistake is an important step toward making up for it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Perry is observant and considerate. He feels a part of the community and gives as well as receives. His mother is devoted and thoughtful about how she's raising him. An extended family cares for Perry and is invested in his well-being, including the warden, prison residents, a teacher, and other adults. Grown-ups generally act on sincere beliefs, even if the outcome isn't always for the best. Mr. VanLeer and his wife argue frequently but well, taking time to discuss their differences and compromise when they can. Perry's best friend is fierce and loyal, working on taming her own demons as she supports him.


Retellings of crimes that landed people in prison, including car accidents, manslaughter, and theft. There's no mention of violence in prison.


"Hell" and "damn" a couple of times.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, by Leslie Connor (Waiting for Normal), is a sympathetic portrayal of life inside a minimum-security prison. There's none of the prison drama typical in popular media -- no violence, no bitter rivalries, no sense of menace. It's an unconventional family of residents reconciling with their troubled pasts and striving for a better future, trying to rise up together. Several residents talk about why they're in prison, including for manslaughter, and most accept responsibility for what they've done. Perry, age 11, who was born and raised in the prison, is wonderfully resilient, doing his best to maintain his integrity and honor with his prison family without disrespecting his new foster family, headed by a man with a dubious claim to the moral high ground.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byacorrinne September 7, 2020

A discussion book for having good integrity, empathy, and respect

I can understand some not thinking this book is appropriate for younger aged children based on first impressions, however, I whole-heartedly disagree! Not one... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byMadDog169 January 22, 2019


This book has a swear word so I think it should be for ages 13 or 14
Teen, 13 years old Written byepicboiuwu December 4, 2019


This book is the best, its a must read. It might have a rough begining, but if you get deeper in the book it gets better
Kid, 12 years old November 24, 2019

Absolutely the Best Book Ever

Ok my Gosh! This is the best book ever! I was doing my book report and came across this. But by accident or not it was by far the BEST BOOK EVER!!!!! It let’s y... Continue reading

What's the story?

Eleven-year-old Perry T. Cook has grown up in Blue River Coed Correctional Facility. He's done nothing wrong, but his mother, Jessica, is serving time for manslaughter. When Mr. VanLeer, the new district attorney, learns of the unconventional arrangement, he takes Perry into his own home and interferes with Jessica's upcoming bid for parole. Perry desperately misses the only family he's ever known and feels ill at ease living "outside," but he applies the lessons he learned in the prison to cope in this new household. As VanLeer tries to break Perry's ties to Blue River, Perry fights back by working on a project to share the Blue River residents' stories and show what his real home has meant to him.

Is it any good?

This memorable novel celebrates unconventional families and the resilience of the human spirit in turbulent times. Isolated in prison, the residents build a strong community in which Perry thrives. Thoughtful readers of ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK will be challenged to reconsider their presumptions about integrity, justice, and happy families. Perry's family is certainly flawed, but it's given him reason to wrestle with questions of honesty, fairness, and responsibility and equipped him with the skills to weather adversity.

Author Leslie Conner has created a fully realized world with caring, well-intentioned adults and children who are necessarily wise beyond their years.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about prison. How does the portrayal here compare with the way you've seen prison portrayed in movies, on TV, or in other books?

  • How does Jessica's voice affect the story? Do many stories about kids share what the adults are thinking?

  • Perry knows only one relative -- his mother -- but he has a large community of people he considers family. Aside from your relatives, do you have caring adults and friends you consider family?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age and family stories

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