Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Return of the Homework Machine

When I purchased my copy of The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman during a Scholastic Book Fair at our school two years ago, it spread through my class like wildfire. It was one of those books that really just appealed to the masses.

So, when I saw Return of the Homework Machine, I had to pick it up. It didn't disappoint. The story has a similar organization to the first book:

  • The reader can tell that the characters are answering questions posed by the police. The story is told in short snippets from each character's perspective.
  • We learn a great deal about each character through these snippets.
  • It's also a great device for moving the story forward at an energetic pace. I found that once I began reading the story, there was no good stopping place. I always wanted to know what the next character would have to say.
  • The four main characters from the first book are back: Snik (aka Sam Dawkins), Judy Douglas, Kelsey Donnelly, and Brenton Damagatchi (the "brains" of the group).
  • The computer chip that they threw into the Grand Canyon in the first story plays an important role in this story.
That being said, there are also some differences:
  • They are now all in sixth grade.
  • Their sixth grade teacher, Mr. Murphy, is a key character to all that transpires this time. In fact, he even joins them on their little adventure.
  • Snik and Brenton learn how to build rockets and send them up in the atmosphere. Later in the story, it just so happens that Mr. Murphy used to work for NASA, and helps them get a rocket FAR into space.
  • Someone dies in the attempt to find treasure.
What I really liked about this story, aside from its appeal for kids, is that I think it will leave readers wanting to know a little more about the history of the Grand Canyon. I also enjoyed the adventure/suspense/looking for lost treasure.

I originally got Return of the Homework Machine as an ARC, but I will most definitely be purchasing it for my classroom library. I anticipate that it will be recommended by the students to each other -- another "wildfire" on my hands! :)

1 comment:

  1. The Homework Machine always goes over like gangbusters at booktalks - I'm very excited to see a sequel coming!