Rating: 3.75/5.0 stars
Summary: Twelve-year-old Thaddeus A. Ledbetter, who considers it a duty to share his knowledge and talent with others, refutes each of the charges which have sent him to "In-School Suspension" for the remainder of seventh grade. (Summary from book)
Thaddeus is a quirky, funny, over-the-top middle school student who wants to do nothing more than re-think the ways things are done and make suggestions for improvements. These solutions include making a church service more fun (such as playing an electric guitar at the beginning of the service), the “appropriate” rules for the slug-bug game, and promoting nutrition for the elderly (including giving those who don’t have teeth oranges…yeah, not the best situation). However, Thaddeus’ suggestions are not always really the best solution and he ends up getting in quite a bit of trouble, including getting in school suspension for the rest of the school year.
This book, made up of notes, journal entries, e-mails, illustrations and more, gives Thaddeus’ defense for all of the actions he’s taken to try to make improvements. This format for the book is one that makes the book really accessible, especially for reluctant readers, and is a great readalike for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.
Thaddeus is presenting his case to the school principal, Mr. Cooper, who has placed him on in school suspension. At the beginning of the book, most of Thaddeus’ peers think he’s kind of strange. Yet, by the end of the book even though they might not fully understand him and his actions, they respect him more. Throughout the book, there are small points made that let readers know Thaddeus’ father has recently died, but it does not consumer the book or become overly emotional. Mr. Cooper automatically assumes Thaddeus is a problem student, but when he finds out Thaddeus’ circumstances, he gets a better understanding of him as a person. Now, Mr. Cooper doesn’t just let him off the hook, but he looks at Thaddeus in a new light.
The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter is a great book that incorporates a wide range of information, including true facts and tidbits, while containing plenty of humor and indirect action. Having the “chapters” broken up by Thaddeus’ specific incident, makes this a good book to be able to read a little, put down, and pick up again without feeling like you might have forgotten what you have read. Although female students will enjoy this, especially those looking for an alternate format book, I think this will definitely be one of my new go-to books to book talk to middle school students, especially boys.