Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine
Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats
Grade Level Equivalent:
Comedy and Humor
Communication and the Internet, Computers
Danny Dunn is excited about a strange contraption that hangs from the ceiling of his bedroom, directly over his desk, in fact. It's a handy place for a simple homework machine, a humble device consisting of a flat piece of wood with an angled ballpoint pen fixed to either end of it. Beneath each pen is a sheet of paper. The machine can do two sets of homework at once. Danny's friend, Joe Pearson is exuberant — his homework can get done, at the same time Danny does his! Danny is always inventing things. He's inspired by Professor Bullfinch, the inventor and scientist, who Danny and his mother live with. But Danny's haughtiness about his rather simple contraption is dampened when Irene Miller, daughter of the astronomer professor, Dr. Miller, appears at his window, having just moved in next door. She seems to know more about science than he does. But the entire group is challenged when Professor Bullfinch leaves Danny in charge of "Miniac," the giant computer that the Professor keeps in his lab in the back of the house. The three soon find out that Miniac is able to solve their homework problems. At last, they have a real homework machine on their hands...and, unexpectedly, a whole lot of problems.
First published in 1958, authors Williams and Abraskins' descriptions of Miniac will seem primitive to today's computer-savvy readers. But these same powerbook-using readers are sure to be entertained by Danny and his friends' hilarious troubles as they discover that the gigantic computer doesn't help them in the ways that they expected.