September 15, 2007

The Homework Machine - by Dan Gutman

Take four fifth-graders with nothing in common, sit them together at a table, have one of them accidentally confess a secret, and you'll be amazed at what happens. This is what happened in The Homework Machine, and the title will give you a hint about the nature of the secret. This is a very good school story, and a lot different than what you can usually expect from Mr. Gutman. He's famous for his sports books (like The Million Dollar Shot), but this book has nothing to do with sports, and is mainly about computers and friendships. It's probably not what you'd expect, but if you read it, you're probably going to really enjoy yourself.

This book has an interesting format: It is written in the form of notes from a detective who is interviewing the characters. Yes, they are in trouble for something big! The idea is that each of them came into the police station and recorded his or her statement on tape, and then somebody typed it all up into this book. This sounds like it would be hard to follow, with the speaker changing every couple of pages, but it actually makes it even more interesting and enjoyable to read, and is a neat idea for future novelists to try themselves.