Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Giving the Chip the Slip: The Return of the Homework Machine by Dan Gutman


Is this thing workin'? Okay. Good. We're gonna need a lotta tape for this one.

Well, remember what happened the last time with those crazy kids. It was in all the papers.

Just to review, these four youngsters from the Grand Canyon School down the road built some machine that did their homework for 'em automatically. Smart kids. Good kids, down deep. And then, for some reason, they built themselves a catapult and chucked the whole darn contraption into the canyon. Strangest thing I ever seen.

Those kids from Dan Gutman's best-selling The Homework Machine are back. They're sixth graders now, made more savvy by their escapade with Brenton Damagatchi's amazing computer which spit out their homework, error-free, in warp time. And they will need all that sixth-grade savvy this time, because the homework machine, that is, its evil core, is back to haunt them.

When the kids--Sam, Judy, Kelsey, and Brenton--realized that having their work done for them was more trouble, ethically and otherwise, than it was worth, they came to the hard decision that the homework machine had to go. But being smart kids with a quirky sense of humor, they decided to get rid of it in a big way--building a medieval catapult and pitching into the Grand Canyon, conveniently nearby.

But now Brenton, the brains behind the caper, has a new worry. The seemingly indestructible main chip which powered the thing has been found still glowing on the canyon floor, and a menacing conman and a cadre of Asian gangsters are closing in on the valuable property with nefarious and threatening plans for its use. The group gets together again to try to retrieve the chip while keeping it out of the hands of evil forces, all without blowing their cover and without winding up on the canyon floor themselves.

And if the kids do get that chip back, how can they end its malevolent history for good? Well, suffice it to say that the guys' hobby of building more and more powerful model rockets comes in handy, and what's left of the homework machine gets a real out-of-this-world sendoff.


The Canyonistas were coming from all over, and another police car pulled up, and those gangsters were coming toward us, and everybody was yelling and shouting at each other. I just covered my ears.


And I pushed the button.

Dan Gutman's Return of the Homework Machine, (Simon & Schuster, 2009) again narrated cleverly through Police Chief Fish's case report testimony tapes by each of the kids, is a funny and fast-paced sequel which will please fans of the first book. As usual, Gutman's writing is appealing, with snappy dialog and sympathetic characters, told with wit and with heart. As School Library Journal said of the first book, it's "...a dramatic and thought-provoking story with a strong message about honesty and friendship."

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  • Dan Gutman has written a lot of books , some of them are really good such as "The Return of the Homework Machine" and "The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable"

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