Thursday, January 1, 2009

January Book Club: "The Homework Machine" by Dan Gutman

Our January book club meeting will take place on Thursday, January 8, at 7 pm. We will be discussing the book, The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman. This book has an intriguing way of telling the story. It is told in the alternating voices of four 11-year-olds as they make statements to the police. The children are all fifth graders in the same class at the Grand Canyon elementary school. They are about as different from each as any four kids could be, but they do have one thing in common--they have all been involved in a scheme to use a machine, invented by one of the group, to do their homework. Their plan takes many twists and turns and gets more complicated than any of them could have imagined. The book appeals equally well to boys and girls and is both funny and thought provoking. It is one of the ten books nominated this year for the Virginia Readers Choice Award.

"Matilda" -- The Book vs. The Movie

The Ashburn Kids Book Club had a great time watching the movie of "Matilda" for our December get-together. The kids came up with MANY examples of ways that the movie is different than the book. Perhaps the most obvious difference is that the setting for the book is England while the movie occurs in the United States. Here's some more of the difference the kids noticed:

  • Matilda's mom is fat and her dad is skinny in the book; in the movie it is just the reverse.
  • Matilda's teacher is named Jenny in the book; in the movie she is called Bumblebee.
  • Matilda's parents didn't sign adoption papers in the book; they did in the movie.
  • Matilda never got put in the chokey in the book; she did in the movie.
  • Matilda lost her amazing powers in the book; she never lost her powers in the movies.
  • Their money is in British pounds in the book; they use U.S. dollars in the movies.
  • They use the word "telie" in the book; in the movie it's called a "television."
  • Mr. Wormwood rips up the book "The American Pony" in the book; in the movie he rips up "Moby Dick."
  • Miss Trunchbull is called the "headmistress" in the book; she's called the "prinicipal" in the movie.
  • Matilda didn't cook her own breakfasts in the book; in the movie she does.

I'm sure there are lots more ways that the book and the movie differ. But one thing the two did have in common -- they were both very enjoyable!