Friday, November 12, 2010
The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter
by John Gosselink
Amulet (Abrams), 2010
Funny, funny, funny! Think The Diary of a Wimpy Kid mixed with a little I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want To Be Your Class President, but even snarkier and more sublime! Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written and illustrated, this novel tells the story of Thaddeus's fight to get out of in-school suspension in a series of letters to the school principal outlining Thaddeus's innocence, Thaddeus Fun Facts and musings, and discipline referrals from Thaddeus's school file.
If I had been drinking chocolate milk in the seventh grade lunchroom when I read this novel, I would have had it streaming in chocolate rivulets from my nose. Laugh-out-loud funny and uber-clever, I have a feeling this author may have to give up teaching high school English for a full-time writing career after his debut novel.
Thaddeus Ledbetter is way too smart for his own good. He tries to better his school and the world around him with his well-thought out improvement plans. No one "gets" Thaddeus, at least no adult. His principal especially seems to have it in for him and puts him in In-School-Suspension for the entire year! Mr. Cooper does not find it funny when Thaddeus suggests that he might change professions--since his name "Cooper" means barrel-maker, Thaddeus believes maybe he would be a better barrel-maker than school principal.
Thaddeus questions the etymology of many words and expressions and offers the reader a plethora of "Thaddeus Fun Facts." He debates the expression "the straw that broke the camel's back." Saying that first of all, a straw couldn't break a camel's back even if it was dropped from an airplane or a blimp--the straw would float gracefully down to earth missing the camel completely and further states, "...maybe we should come up with a metaphor that doesn't involve the crippling of an innocent pack animal" (p. 30).
Every teacher has had one or two students like Thaddeus--it's what keeps the good teachers in the profession.
Readers will love Thaddeus and believe in his innocence. He is a compelling and charismatic character. Visit his website at www.thaddeus-ledbetter.com
Highly, highly recommended and not to be missed for grades 4-8. Kids who love the Wimpy Kid series will love Thaddeus.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I got this copy from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review.