My Homework Ate the Dog by Derek Taylor Kent is a terrific story about 11 year old Rudy Berkman, who decides to light off a rocket he made out of boxes and accidently catches his house on fire. Since he’s gotten into trouble before, his parents think attending Danville Reformatory School will help, so they all move to Danville. It’s no accident that rearranging the town’s letters backwards spells out Evil Land. Right away, Rudy notices the town’s people seem too friendly, and the kids act like robots. When he starts seeing unbelievably strange things, he wants to talk to someone he can trust. Then out of nowhere, Brett Looger, a bully from his old school, shows up as a new student. In his own rebellious way, he befriends Rudy. About the same time, some inanimate objects at home momentarily come alive. Rudy’s homework even gets vicious and swallows his dog named Beast. A similar experience happens later at Brett’s except his homework turns into a huge shark that tries to attack the boys. Getting away and trying to figure out what happened earlier to Beast sets in motion the adventure of a lifetime. Eventually, Brett and others disappear too. No one could ever predict all of the surprises Rudy has in store for him. This is definitely a book that holds the reader’s attention and won’t let go!
My Homework Ate My Dog is fast-paced, easy to read, and full of action. The chapters are short but descriptive while the characters are well rounded and diverse. Most have special gifts that make the story interesting to read, and they are funny in silly ways that are perfect for kids ages 8-12. I especially like how Rudy handles the crazy adventure that comes his way. Although he’s willing to stand up for himself, he realizes he doesn’t know everything and readily accepts help when he needs it. I admire him because when he is shocked and scared, he admits it. In spite of any negative consequences he might personally experience, he makes brave decisions if the outcomes are best for the ones he cares about. The story has so much suspense that anyone who likes school stereotypes, superhero qualities, magic, potions, and the power of good vs. evil will have a great time reading this book!