Review and Summary: The Homework Machine

The Homework MachineTitle:  The Homework Machine

Author:  Dan Gutman

Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

Genre:  Children’s Fiction

 

 Short, fun, interestingly organized, and about something that you aren’t supposed to do. A good book after reading all these novels about serious issues and murderous plots. The Homework Machine is about four kids – a geek, a class clown, a know-it-all teacher’s pet, and a slacker. A most peculiar combination of fifth-graders. In fact, if you mixed together their equivalents in food, you would probably get something resembling the insides of a septic tank. Brenton is an interesting kid – he dresses unlike other people, he parts his hair weird, and he’s light-years ahead of everybody in intelligence. You might be guessing he’s either the geek or the teacher’s pet. He’s the geek. Judy is a stuck-up snob in the beginning, and she has her ring of friends, but is despised among others. She is adored among teachers, but later on in the book her personality begins to change. Sam, or as other people call him, Snik, is in an awkward position as the new kid in school. The class clown, luckily, can define a potential friend from an enemy. Kelsey is just an average kid who gets grades just high enough to get her through the year, and desperately wants to be out of school.

One day, Brenton tells Snik that he has a homework machine, and, of course, Snik doesn’t believe him. So he comes over with Judy and Kelsey, who hear about the conversation, and like in any other good children’s book, Brenton’s computer with software he designed himself does their homework. They have the fallacy that if their homework is done for them, life will become easier. They’re wrong, but they don’t know that. So they bring their homework over so often it’s outrageous, and the foursome deigns each other their friendship. Eventually, after many rumors leak out, they are caught by the police and have to explain everything. Of course, they try to get out of trouble, but they fail miserably. Don’t worry, they don’t get put in quarantine or anything – it turns out kind of good, actually.

When I started reading, this book had me confused at the beginning. It was on my book list for school, and not because I wanted to read it (I had never heard of it), but because my teacher found good reviews on it and thought that it could be used for a review (which I’m writing right now). Turns out, it’s not what you would excpect from a school book. It’s about four kids and a machine that helps them cheat at homework. Probably not a teacher’s first choice of a book. I wasn’t at all bamboozled into thinking that this was a classic book – I mean, any book about a machine that does homework probably isn’t some dude with a PhD’s idea. You may think at first that this book has no place in any school setting whatsoever – that it would encourage kids to cheat on their boring after-school assignments. However, after reading this book, I found that it sort of got me that no matter how hard you try to conceal your “accidental glancing” at someone else’s paper, you will (almost) always get caught. Even if that accidental peeking isn’t at all peeking, but using some geek’s super computer to do homework in your handwriting at the touch of a button. Hey, anything’s possible.

The setup of this book is quite interesting. It’s like a review, except they follow the same story in the same order with no questions asked. Do you remember my review of The Red Pyramid? Well, it sort of like that, except with WAY more people. All the kids’ moms are in it, an enemy at school appears a few times, and even a police officer talks at the beginning and end. There are back stories and random explanations, which keep the story interesting. Friendships develop and diminish, and there’s always a mysterious flair to the words.

After reading this book I am almost voracious for more Dan Gutman. He delivers bits of everything, and gives his books plenty of humor and good-natured sarcasm. This was a short book, with easy vocab and plot, so I would recommend this book to kids ages 8 to 12.

 

Posted by: Fred Reads

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4 thoughts on “Review and Summary: The Homework Machine

  1. Janine Reads says:

    Hey Fred,

    This review is interesting to me stylistically. I had a hunch after your last reviews on the Hunger Games that you were taking on a style of the book in your review. I really enjoy that idea. In this review, hoewever, it struck me a bit differently. For instance, you began your first paragraph with a few fragments. I understood what you meant very clearly and found the conversational tone to be charming. It still made my inner grammar freak twitch.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Janine

    • Fred Reads says:

      Yeah, grammar is the only thing that I don’t really pay attention to. I mean, I’m not all like “Duh, me no like grammar and stuff,” but I will admit to a few errors once in a while. In fact, I’m sure you’ll be able to pick out some errors in this comment. I’m good at spelling (relatively) but sometimes I just let somthin’ slip. And honestly, I don’t even mean to organize a review in a specific way. It’s like a part of my brain that I can’t control determining how I’m going to do it based on my mood or the kind of book. I do think though that some of my sentences are a little too short.

      • Janine Reads says:

        I know what you mean about your reviews reflecting your mood at the time. I think that is why I haven’t written any in a while. I am still reading, but my life has been subject to some stress and craziness lately. Everything I write is no good. It’s a frustrating feeling. I’m hoping to get some rest this weekend and be able to sit down and write a bit. I’ve been wanting to tell you about this really interesting book I read a few mints ago, actually. Stay tuned for that.

        • Fred Reads says:

          I have something for you to be stay tuned for, actually. I just sent one of my spies (a friend who came over) to collect emails and signatures from my friends that go to his school. I’m basically making a petition to present to my mom. If I get enough of them, she might let me have a blog with my friends. That means that your going to have to help me a little. Actually, the only thing I need your help with is filtering the posts that go on the blog, like you do with my posts. It’s not that I’m being big-brother-ish, I just don’t want anything bad or unnecessary going up.

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