Free Thaddeus by John Gosselink


Rachel Seigel

In the spirit of Middle Grade Monday, today’s recommendation is a middle-grade read aimed squarely at reluctant boy readers between ages 9 and 13.

Meet Thaddeus Ledbetter. He’s a too-smart-for-his-own-good seventh-grader who through no fault of his own (or so he claims) has ended up stuck in in-school suspension for the remainder of the school year. You see, Thaddeus has all the answers, and he’ll happily tell you how to do just about anything in a better or more efficient way. Unfortunately for Thaddeus, these suggestions for “improvement” tend to backfire, and usually land Thaddeus in trouble.

Thaddeus is the kind of kid that completely exasperates adults, and makes kids cheer. In fact, not only do his classmates cheer for him, but they begin a movement to “free Thaddeus”, which spreads through the school like wildfire.

The format of the novel is quite original, and is presented in the form of a case file, prepared by none other than Thaddeus, who is mounting his defence. The file consists of discipline referral forms, diagrams, letters and pictures, and Thaddeus fun facts, which cover just about everything under the sun.

Masterfully executed, this novel offers perfect insight into the mind of a middle-school boy. It’s like Wimpy Kid meets the Great Brain, and it’s absolutely one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, it’s clever, and will resonate with anyone who has ever known a Thaddeus.

Rachel Seigel is the Children’s/Young Adult Book Buyer at wholesaler S&B Books in Mississauga, Ontario. She also maintains a personal blog at and can be found on Twitter as @rachelnseigel.


10 Responses to Free Thaddeus by John Gosselink

  1. Amie Mar 26 2012 at 6:23 am #

    Oh, this sounds sensational! I absolutely LOVE the formatting concept, and I’m always looking for proper laugh-out-loud books. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Julie Mar 26 2012 at 6:59 am #

    FREE THADDEUS sounds like a great read! Thanks for the rec, Rachel!

  3. Katie Mar 26 2012 at 7:52 am #

    This review just made my morning. I’m constantly on the hunt for great boy books, and Free Thaddeus sounds hilarious. Thanks for the tip!

    • Rachel Seigel Mar 30 2012 at 6:52 pm #

      It is totally hilarious- and I think there will be another one this fall! 🙂

  4. Kat Zhang Mar 26 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I love books with unique formatting! FREE THADDEUS sounds awesome (and how cool would it be to be named Thaddeus??) 😀

    • Rachel Seigel Mar 30 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      You’d pretty much have to be an interesting kid with a name like that!

  5. Sooz Mar 26 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Ooooh, this sounds awesome!! I’ve never even heard of it. Thanks for putting it on my radar!

  6. Vanessa Di Gregorio Mar 30 2012 at 10:42 am #

    I’ve never heard of this book before – but it sounds like just what I’ve been looking for (for myself AND my little brothers!). I can’t wait to pick up a copy! Thanks for the recommendation, Rach! 🙂

    • Rachel Seigel Mar 30 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      Absolutely give it to your brothers! They’ll love it- and you’ll get a kick out of it too! 🙂

  7. phuckBOY Feb 27 2014 at 6:25 pm #


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