Jacqueline Davies

The Lemonade Crime

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The Lemonade Crime Summary

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The Lemonade Crime is the sequel to Jacqueline Davies’s elementary school reader novel The Lemonade War. Published in 2011, this follow-up continues the story of entrepreneurial siblings Evan and Jessie, solving the mystery of the theft that ended the first novel. The key question of the novel is about the best way to right a wrongdoing: is it through vengeance or justice? By setting the climax of The Lemonade Crime at a mock trial organized according to the US legal system, Davies explores the differences between evidence and intuition, fact and rumor, and the benefits and drawbacks of our adversarial judicial process.

At the end of The Lemonade War, Evan and his sister, Jessie, had earned $208 from their competitive lemonade stand enterprise. However, after Evan went to a friend’s birthday swimming party and left the money in his shorts, the money disappeared. The Lemonade Crime picks up a few days later, as Evan and Jessie try to piece together what happened to the missing $208.

Their immediate suspect is Scott, the neighborhood bully. Not only was Scott acting suspiciously at the same birthday party where the money went missing, but he also shows up in school bragging about his brand new Xbox 20/20 video game system. Even though both Evan and Jessie have the same gut feeling about Scott’s guilt, they respond differently to this realization. Evan wants revenge via a basketball contest – revenge not just for the money, but also because his friends now prefer to hang out at Scott’s house playing Xbox to playing basketball with Evan. Jessie decides to indict Scott, putting him on trial to determine his guilt or innocence via a jury of his peers – their fourth-grade classmates.

After serving Scott with an arrest warrant at recess, Jessie, explaining that the trial will take place after school on Friday, assigns roles to some of her classmates – David will be the judge, a few of the other party guests will be witnesses, and Jessie will be the prosecutor representing the plaintiff, Evan. With the level of preparation she has, it seems that Scott won’t fare well in the trial until Jessie’s best friend, Megan, steps in to be his defense lawyer.

As the trial proceeds, the novel explains the meanings of legal terms such as “due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” and so on. Witnesses from the party each give testimony about what they saw. The story the prosecution pieces together goes like this: on the day of the party, most of the boys had taken off their shorts upstairs in Jack’s house to put on swim trunks and were hanging out in the pool. In the middle of the party, Scott went upstairs to the bathroom, and then came downstairs fully dressed and in a huge hurry to leave. This odd behavior appeared suspicious – and then later, Evan discovered that the $208 was gone.

Although all of this seems to point to Scott as the crime’s perpetrator, in reality, no one actually saw him take the money. Instead, as Megan argues, the evidence is circumstantial and doesn’t prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Scott is found innocent, which is the correct legal result but which leaves Jessie unhappy.

After the trial, Evan challenges Scott to a one-on-one basketball game. Fueled by anger and resentment, Evan wants to show up Scott on the court as a way of making him feel bad for the theft. Although Evan wins the game by a landslide, it ends up being a hollow victory. After all, Evan still doesn’t know for sure whether Scott stole the money, and the game doesn’t resolve anyone’s feelings.

Later that weekend, Evan is playing baseball when he accidentally hits the ball into Scott’s house and wrecks Scott’s father’s new TV. Rather than avoiding responsibility for what he has done, Evan goes to Scott’s house to apologize. There, he and Scott end up patching up some of their friendship and playing with Scott’s Xbox together. Then, just as Evan is getting ready to leave, a shame-faced Scott suddenly hands him the $208 and a heartfelt apology.

Evan forgives Scott on the spot, and the two make a pact never to reveal what happened to anyone at school. Since the novel is set during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the week when people are supposed to acknowledge the wrongs that they have done to others and to atone for any injury or hurt they’ve caused, this ending holds up the values of forgiveness and amends rather than vengeance and punishment.