THE DEFENSE OF THADDEUS A. LEDBETTER by John Gosselink (Amulet Books 2010) was sent to me by the author. It turns out his wife and I had lunch together at the Texas Library Association conference last year. He is a former teacher at SHSU, so we have a connection. I am pleased to have been sent this book as it is a perfect book for the reluctant reader in question. It is also a great book for boys. It also demonstrates how books are continuing to morph in form and format. Thaddeus gets into a world of trouble on a school field trip. His exasperated principal, who has seen countless referrals about Thaddeus already this year, sentences Thaddeus to in school suspension for the remainder of the year.
Since it is January, the sentence seems particularly harsh to Thaddeus who immediately begins to mount his defense. Thaddeus calls upon his uncle, a lawyer, for assistance. As he sits in ISS, Thaddeus churns out documents of all sorts, documents that form the framework for the pages of this novel. Think THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ORIGAMI YODA meets THEODORE BOONE, KID LAWYER meets NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. What that means is you have a savvy kid who knows something (Grisham book but with a more believable central character), documents that tell a story (Avi book but for younger readers) and contents that actually look like pages from notebooks and other places (Asperger book).
Thaddeus is a kid with some problems: many of his teachers do not appreciate his "help," the school bully has it in for him, and he is still dealing with the death of his father. His heart, though, is huge and wonderful and innocent. He is sincere in his offer to help even when those offers end up rather disastrously. Kids who like WIMPY KID should give this one a try, too. <507>