Lily Watson, a normal sixth-grader, becomes the first juvenile juror in Missouri. She is assigned to a case that involves a murder of one of her classmates, Perry Keet, and the suspected murderer, Bob White. Lily's teacher requests her to record her time as a juror in a journal, which she does.

The book is in the style of a ScrapbookStory, where Lily encounters characters like Rhett Tyle , a tycoon who owns the zoo where the murder took place (and the rest of the town); Fawn Papillon, an aging movie star; Anna Conda, a fashion designer, and Bernie "Buzz" Ard, a gossip columnist. The tale is recorded in a combination of journal entries, news clippings, drafts of Fawn's memior, letters, maps and more.

''Trial by Journal'' is an entertaining children's book that uses animal motifs and a suspenseful plot, with some lightheartedness in a Scrapbook Story that is largely underestimated.
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!!Tropes in this work include:
* CourtroomAntic
* JuryDuty
* {{Punny Name}}s: Several characters have them. The rest just have Meaningful names(Watson and Holmes are Lily and her teacher's last names)
* RuleOfFunny
* RogueJuror: When Lily finds out that [[spoiler:Perry isn't dead, she splits the jury with her knowledge]].
* ScrapbookStory
* ShownTheirWork: The jurors are strictly not allowed to get any outside information concerning the case.
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