Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
Free Thaddeus! by John Gosselink

Book Summary

If you said that Thaddeus has a lot of ideas, it would be an understatement.  If you can think of a system, Thaddeus has an idea to improve it.  Unfortunately, it turns out that many adults and middle school students don't appreciate it when a well-meaning person offers suggestions, so Thaddeus finds himself in trouble.  In-school suspension trouble.  This book is the story of his defense to the school principal.  If you thought setting his pastor's robe on fire or accidentally choking a room full of senior citizens was the most outrageous thing Thaddeus could do, you'd be mistaken.

This book was also published under a different title: The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter.

Free Thaddeus book cover
Free Thaddeus

Book Review

This book is quite funny, with a wide range of appeal.  Portions of the story are told in a non-traditional format, including comics drawn by Thaddeus, as well as letters and notes passed between different characters that make up his case file for his defense.  Thaddeus is a well-intentioned character, and is not deliberately seeking to harm anyone.  He is dealing with the death of his father, who was an efficiency expert, so his mother suggests to the principal that Thaddeus has taken his efficiency mission to the extreme.

Thaddeus has a gift for insulting people, which is amusing in some places and embarrassing in others, and some readers may cringe at some of his references to little people, overweight people, performing artists, and the elderly, among others. 

This book is a great starting point for discussions about people who don't fit in, as well as for service projects--Thaddeus shows us it is critical to listen to and understand the people who will be affected by changes to any service or system before you implement new procedures. It is also a gentle reminder to those of us who want to move mountains - sometimes we don't know best.

left 3D quotation mark

Not sure how many bus trips you have been on, but it takes very little to get a busload of kids freaking out.  The driver clips one curb on a turn and you would think someone's head had exploded in the rear seat.
p. 62

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Open-Mindedness
  • Changing Policies; How Changes Affect Different Groups
  • Sibling Relationships
  • Female Baseball Players
  • School Sports Programs

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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