The Life and Times of Theodore Addison: 5th Grade Challenge

Ted, the 5th grade genius and Veronica, his arch-rival, are constantly pranking each other. When the pranks spill over and ignite a grade-wide war, the teachers organize a girls vs. boys competition.

They expect to convince the kids that they need to work together by setting up events in academics, arts, and athletics. But competitions aren't always fair, and when two girls suddenly become friendly with Ted's teammates, he suspects manipulation is involved.

Compelled to prevent Veronica's ruses from succeeding, which could hurt his friend, James, a new immigrant who's already insecure, Ted will go to extremes... maybe even at the cost of losing.

Key Theme: Empathy

Ted and company learn to treat each other as the image of God.

Book Benefits

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Christian Development

Teaching children the ways of God through stories is the way Jesus taught us. Your children will gain insight on what's right and why. Their theological and moral foundations will be reinforced.

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Cross-cultural Engagement

It's even more critical in this day and age for people to come to know and understand each other. With a cast as diverse as this, and even more coming in future stories, we want everyone to shine with the glory God gave them when He made them.

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Representation and Affirmation

It can't be overstated how important it is for children to see themselves in the characters they admire as they grow up. Feeling seen and embraced not as an object, but as a real human being is essential. And that is part of why diversity isn't some trend in this series. Black characters shouldn't only be thinking about "black issues", they should be thinking about life. But race is explored when it's suitable, and we can't shy away from it.

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Literacy and Vocabulary

When reading, difficult words are highlighted and defined in the margins of the page so you don't have to look for a dictionary. This series will build your children's vocabulary, while cultivating their love of reading.

Meet the Characters

Theodore "Ted" Addison

A 10-year-old genius who moved to Miracle City, a large Midwestern metropolis, early in 5th grade after dealing with bullying at his former school. Moving gave him a chance to shed the "bad kid" image he'd been developing when fighting his bullies. When he arrived, he and his classmates helped him defend the city from a terrorist attack. (These are the events of another book, The Life and Times of Theodore Addison: My New Home.)

Ted loves engineering and pairs his curiosity with his handyman skills to make new inventions. When he gets advice, Ted likes to sit down and think it through completely. It can, therefore, take him quite a while to make decisions. He can be quite mischievous, as well, but he doesn't tend to be mean-spirited.

Veronica Teal

Veronica moved from Canada about a year ago, when her parents decided to do mission work in the US. This move put a lot of pressure on her because she wasn’t sure how she would be received in America. She adopted a tough exterior to command the respect of her classmates. On the inside, she can be friendly, loving, and loyal, though only a few get to see that side of her.

She is Ted’s foil. She helped him during the terrorist attack, but because they got off on the wrong foot, they are not friends. While she is not as smart as Ted, Veronica is quick-witted, which she often uses to mess with him.

Derrick Read

Derrick grew up with Ted and later moved to Miracle City about a year before him, briefly straining their friendship. When he lived in his old hometown, Derrick learned martial arts to defend himself and Ted. In his new school, he finally felt free to be his nerdy self without fear of bullying, and was elated when Ted’s family later moved into his neighborhood. It would be just like old times...

Derrick loves to play video games, read comics, and help Ted on his inventions. His keen eye for detail often saves Ted's ideas before they crash and burn. Derrick tends to be serious and level-headed, but has a funny side few get to see.

Diamond Forté

Diamond's family moved to Miracle City the summer before her 5th grade year after their juice business took off. After finding that they could pass their business down to Diamond, her mom especially tried to push her into accounting and business studies, but Diamond loves the arts, like music and dance, but her mom doesn't embrace those subjects.

She hit it off with Veronica when they both transferred into the school on the same day, and helped each other adjust. She isn’t friends with Ted or Derrick, largely because of Veronica’s influence, but she is not mean-spirited and tries to get along with everybody. Diamond often goes along with Veronica's pranks, but other times she'll dissuade her from doing something too devious.

Yaakov "James" Asefa

James moved to the United States from Israel about a half-year before 5th grade, due to Middle-Eastern strife. James' family is an Ethiopian Jewish family that believes in Jesus, making them "Messianic Jews". They faced discrimination because of their religious beliefs from other Jews who questioned the family's Jewish identity, but it was the rocket attacks that made the family move.

James has not adjusted well to America, and tends to self-isolate. If not for Ted and Derrick's insistence, James wouldn't have any friends. He has a hard time coming out of his shell, and hesitates to plant roots, because he pessimistically expects his family to move again.

Ambrosa "Bookworm" Rodriguez

Bookworm was born and raised in Miracle City, and loves to read just about anything she can get her hands on, from presidential memoirs to goofy adventure books. Because of her avid reading, Amber has encyclopedic knowledge and wisdom beyond her years.

She volunteered as a host for new students at orientation before the start of 5th grade, where she met Veronica, and they soon became friends. But after Veronica found her social circle, Amber got cut out, and to make matters worse, Veronica sometimes even made fun of her. This drove her even more to her books, which served as a distraction from the pain of loneliness.

About the Author

Jamaal Fridge

Jamaal W.M. Fridge is an evangelist, licensed to minister in a nondenominational church in Chicago, where he was born and raised. After graduating from Calvin University with a degree in Business, he went to China for six years to teach English, working with both children and adults.

He has a passion for Christian Education and Biblical Literacy, and wants to use his knowledge of God to further the wellbeing of the oppressed. In his spare time, he loves to write books, ride bikes, watch Avatar: The Last Airbender, and play video games. While he can be quiet, his mind races with ideas to reach new people, and to bring the wisdom of God into each setting.

He looks forward to developing the stories of Theodore Addison and his friends, but most hopes to impact the development of your life story through these books. Jamaal can be reached on Facebook @AddisonBooks if you want more information about upcoming stories, like “My New Home”, “Operation Mapleview”, “The Average Genius”, and others.

Readers' Thoughts


"...Reader friendly; both kids and adults can relate to it and enjoy it - I know I did."

"I found that the illustrations really complimented the novel."

"The illustrations and character descriptions at the beginning are a really cool touch. It brings me into the world of the book right away."

"I think the structure, characters, and dialogue are very strong."

"A great way of informing in a way that is fun and engaging. I will share this book with teachers, counselors, parents, and students."

Writing Style and Plot Structure

"Your writing voice is witty and your style is consistent..."

"Another beautiful thing is the tone which is mostly objective but your ability to combine this lot: logic and emotion, intimacy and distance, seriousness and humor, etc. in expressing the characters makes them real and interesting."

The plots also unfold naturally; I can visualize what the classroom, auditorium, Ted's workplace in the basement etc. look like. Also, his inventions, the jetpack, the smartwatch, etc.; the beautiful ways in which they are presented will sure get a lot of readers glued to this book."

"Everything comes together and flows well. It doesn't take too long to get to the conflict in the story."

"It was easy to follow, pleasant to the eye and there weren't any moments that seemed to drag out the plot. In fact I would say this story is very plot and character driven..."


"I felt that the dialogue was very strong and helped to get a good grasp on the characters personalities."

"I like the opening dialogue. It helps me figure out for myself who the characters are rather than just being told through exposition."

"I really like your dialogue. I think that is a great strength of this story and your writing in general."

Character Development

"Each of the characters in the main cast are given a fair amount of time to develop as the story progresses. I like the clear distinction between when characters are with their friends, family, and "enemies."

"I found everyone very likeable and relatable. I also like that you took time to explore different issues each of these characters were facing in their personal lives outside of school (i.e, crushes or wanting to be true to themselves)."

"The argument between Diamond and Derrick was also well done. It really explores the complex issues that I feel many POC deal with, when it comes to their community versus the 'outside world.'"

"I also enjoyed seeing Veronica go off on Ted and criticize him for his behaviour."

Start Listening Now!

The first chapter is up and ready! You can listen to the story for free right now on YouTube. Enjoy!