Monday, March 14, 2011

The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter by John Gosselink

Summary:  Thaddeus A. Ledbetter is a middle-schooler who has been unjustly imprisoned. Well, not exactly imprisoned, but relegated to the outcast society of in-school suspension. To extract himself from this shameful sentence, detail-oriented Thaddeus has amassed a case file of notes, letters, emails, annotated drawings, journal entries, and other exhibits in his defense. This ingeniously constructed paperback "defense brief" draws you in and then nearly drowns you in giggles.

As a parent and an educator, I found Thaddeus infuriating! But I know my students will find him to be hilariously outrageous.  Once I stopped reading this book with an adult's perspective and started just reading it for the wonderful entertainment it provides, I found myself really enjoying it.  

Gosselink has created a character that only a mother (or perhaps a tolerant and patient teacher) could love.  To put it simply, Thaddeus is so full of himself, so convinced that he knows all and can do all and everyone should bow to his superior intellect. (I did find myself wondering if Thaddeus ever gets out of in-school-suspension would he grow up to be another Sheldon from TV's Big Bang Theory.)  Thaddeus is a good kid with a good heart - he just doesn't see the flaws in all of his schemes.  And when they fail, it couldn't have possibly been because they were flawed - the failure is always due to someone or something else - at least it's that way in Thaddeus' mind.

This is a laugh out loud read, perfect for 5th graders and above who enjoy Diary of a Wimpy Kid and want to move on to something just as humorous, but perhaps a little more advanced.

Recommended for Grades 5 - 8th.

Mrs. Archer's rating: 4 of 5.

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