The Homework Machine
50 pages • 1 hour read
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- Introduction-Chapter 2
- Chapters 3-4
- Chapters 5-6
- Chapters 7-8
- Chapters 9-10
- Character Analysis
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- Important Quotes
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Summary and Study Guide
The Homework Machine , written by acclaimed American author Dan Gutman was first published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and is the first of a two-book series. The second book, The Return of the Homework Machine , was published in 2011. Gutman is primarily a children’s fiction writer who has been nominated for and won numerous awards, including 18 for The Homework Machine alone. Gutman is best known for his humorous series, My Weird School , in which there are more than 70 books. He lives in New York City with his family.
The paperback edition used for this study guide was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007.
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The Homework Machine is told from the perspectives of multiple characters in the format of tape recordings for a police report.
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The four main characters are fifth-grade students who are grouped at the same classroom table because their last names start with D: Sam Dawkins (Snik), Kelsey Donnelly , Judy Douglas , and Brenton Damagatchi . Other than sharing the same last initial, the students have nothing in common. Snik is the cool class smart aleck; Kelsey is laid back and doesn’t care about school; Judy is conscientious and in the gifted program; and Brenton is a loner and genius who designs software and studies psychology in his spare time. Snik pushes people’s buttons, and one day he pushes Brenton too far—implying that Brenton spends all his free time doing homework. Brenton retorts that he doesn’t spend any time doing homework and lets slip that he has invented a homework machine.
Snik calls Brenton a liar, so Brenton invites Snik, Judy, and Kelsey to his house to see for themselves. The group are stunned when Brenton’s machine prints out perfectly completed homework in Brenton’s handwriting. Brenton agrees to let Snik, Judy, and Kelsey join him after school to “do” their homework and even rewrites the software to accommodate their handwriting. The unlikely foursome spends every afternoon together, but they insist that they are not friends and that the only reason they tolerate each other is to use the homework machine, which they name Belch. Judy feels guilty about cheating but enjoys getting A’s and uses the extra time to take up ballet. Kelsey’s vastly improved grades earn her privileges, such as a belly-button piercing, from her mother. As the weeks pass, the D Squad becomes addicted to using Belch and the boundaries between their various social identities begin to blur. Snik shows an interest in “boring” chess, which Brenton plays, and Judy tries to be complimentary about Kelsey’s piercings (while finding them disgusting). Everything seems to be going well. However, things start to rapidly fall apart halfway through the year. Judy and Kelsey’s other friends resent their new associations and “unfriend” them, and their teacher, Miss Rasmussen , suspects that they are cheating.
In addition, a strange man has been stalking the group ever since Brenton designed software to instigate a hugely successful social media-driven “red socks day” that spread across America. Miss Rasmussen springs a surprise test on the class to see whether the D Squad really knows their schoolwork. Sure enough—Kelsey and Snik fail, and Judy gets a C, confirming Miss Rasmussen’s suspicions. Before Miss Rasmussen can report them, Snik’s father, who is in the military, is killed in the Middle East. This tragic event diverts Miss Rasmussen’s attention from the cheating, which seems trivial in comparison. The bond between the D Squad strengthens as the stress of keeping Belch secret increases.
Together they decide to shut Belch down, only to discover that Belch has taken on a life of its own and will not power off. They throw Belch into the Grand Canyon and feel relief as they watch it disappear. However, when backpackers find computer pieces at the bottom of the canyon, the D Squad is called into the sheriff’s office where they confess to everything. The case is closed, but their unlikely friendships continue to strengthen and grow. The stalker turns out to be someone scouting Brenton to offer him a job as an influencer for his company. The company’s clients want to market their products to kids. Brenton simply offers him an idea he would like to influence kids with: “Do your homework” (146).
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By Dan Gutman
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Table of Contents
About the book, about the author.
Dan Gutman hated to read when he was a kid. Then he grew up. Now he writes cool books like The Kid Who Ran for President ; Honus & Me ; The Million Dollar Shot ; Race for the Sky ; and The Edison Mystery: Qwerty Stevens, Back in Time . If you want to learn more about Dan or his books, stop by his website at DanGutman.com.
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (July 26, 2011)
- Length: 192 pages
- ISBN13: 9781416954590
- Grades: 3 - 7
- Ages: 8 - 12
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- Book Cover Image (jpg): Return of the Homework Machine Trade Paperback 9781416954590 (1.7 MB)
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The return of the homework machine
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After discarding their infamous homework machine, four friends, now in sixth grade, find themselves once again at the police station, this time giving testimony about an incident involving a powerful computer chip, a Grand Canyon treasure, and a dead body.
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THE HOMEWORK MACHINE
by Dan Gutman ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2006
When fifth-graders Judy, Sam and Kelsey discover their classmate Brenton Damagatchi’s homework machine, they think they are on to a good thing and begin to visit him regularly after school. Alphabetically seated at the same table, the brilliant Asian-American computer geek, hardworking, high-achieving African-American girl, troubled army brat and ditzy girl with pink hair would seem to have nothing in common. (They would also seem to be stereotypes, but young readers won’t mind.) But they share an aversion to the time-consuming grind of after-school work. Their use of the machine doesn’t lead to learning—as a surprise spring quiz demonstrates—but it does lead to new friendships and new interests. The events of their year are told chronologically in individual depositions to the police. In spite of the numerous voices, the story is easy to follow, and the change in Sam, especially, is clear, as he discovers talents beyond coolness thanks to a new interest in chess. Middle-grade readers may find one part of this story upsettingly realistic and the clearly stated moral not what they had hoped to hear, but the generally humorous approach will make the lesson go down easily. (Fiction. 8-11)
Pub Date: March 1, 2006
Page Count: 160
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2006
CHILDREN'S SOCIAL THEMES
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MUSTACHES FOR MADDIE
by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 3, 2017
Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean.
A 12-year-old copes with a brain tumor.
Maddie likes potatoes and fake mustaches. Kids at school are nice (except one whom readers will see instantly is a bully); soon they’ll get to perform Shakespeare scenes in a unit they’ve all been looking forward to. But recent dysfunctions in Maddie’s arm and leg mean, stunningly, that she has a brain tumor. She has two surgeries, the first successful, the second taking place after the book’s end, leaving readers hanging. The tumor’s not malignant, but it—or the surgeries—could cause sight loss, personality change, or death. The descriptions of surgery aren’t for the faint of heart. The authors—parents of a real-life Maddie who really had a brain tumor—imbue fictional Maddie’s first-person narration with quirky turns of phrase (“For the love of potatoes!”) and whimsy (she imagines her medical battles as epic fantasy fights and pretends MRI stands for Mustard Rat from Indiana or Mustaches Rock Importantly), but they also portray her as a model sick kid. She’s frightened but never acts out, snaps, or resists. Her most frequent commentary about the tumor, having her skull opened, and the possibility of death is “Boo” or “Super boo.” She even shoulders the bully’s redemption. Maddie and most characters are white; one cringe-inducing hallucinatory surgery dream involves “chanting island natives” and a “witch doctor lady.”
Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017
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RACE FOR THE RUBY TURTLE
by Stephen Bramucci ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 3, 2023
A wild romp that champions making space for vulnerable creatures and each other.
A boy with ADHD explores nature and himself.
Eleven-year-old Jake Rizzi just wants to be seen as “normal”; he blames his brain for leading him into trouble and making him do things that annoy his peers and even his own parents. Case in point: He’s stuck spending a week in rural Oregon with an aunt he barely knows while his parents go on vacation. Jake’s reluctance changes as he learns about the town’s annual festival, during which locals search for a fabled turtle. But news of this possibly undiscovered species has spread. Although Aunt Hettle insists to Jake that it’s only folklore, the fame-hungry convene, sure that the Ruby-Backed Turtle is indeed real—just as Jake discovers is the case. Keeping its existence secret is critical to protecting the rare creature from a poacher and others with ill intentions. Readers will keep turning pages to find out how Jake and new friend Mia will foil the caricatured villains. Along the way, Bramucci packs in teachable moments around digital literacy, mindfulness, and ecological interdependence, along with the message that “the only way to protect the natural world is to love it.” Jake’s inner monologue elucidates the challenges and benefits of ADHD as well as practical coping strategies. Whether or not readers share Jake’s diagnosis, they’ll empathize with his insecurities. Jake and his family present white; Mia is Black, and names of secondary characters indicate some ethnic diversity.
Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023
CHILDREN'S SOCIAL THEMES | CHILDREN'S ACTION & ADVENTURE FICTION | CHILDREN'S MYSTERY & THRILLER | CHILDREN'S SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
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Return of the Homework Machine Summary and Analysis
FreeBookNotes found 3 sites with book summaries or analysis of Return of the Homework Machine . If there is a Return of the Homework Machine SparkNotes, Shmoop guide, or Cliff Notes, you can find a link to each study guide below.
Among the summaries and analysis available for Return of the Homework Machine , there is 3 Book Reviews.
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Return of the Homework Machine
By dan gutman, full book notes and study guides.
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KirkusReviews - Return of the Homework Machine
Estimated Read Time : 1 minute
Word Count: 173
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Word Count: 850
More Books by Dan Gutman
FreeBookNotes has 19 more books by Dan Gutman, with a total of 57 study guides.