NO. MORE. HOMEWORK.
That’s what sixth grader Sam Warren tells his teacher while standing on top of his desk. He's fed up with doing endless tasks from the time he gets home to the time he goes to sleep. Suspended for his protest, Sam decides to fight back. He recruits his elderly neighbor/retired attorney Mr. Kalman to help him file a class action lawsuit on behalf of all students in Los Angeles. Their argument? Homework is unconstitutional.
With a ragtag team—aspiring masterchef Alistair, numbers gal Catalina, sports whiz Jaesang, rebel big sister Sadie and her tech-savvy boyfriend Sean—Sam takes his case to federal court. He learns about the justice system, kids’ rights, and constitutional law. And he learns that no matter how many times you get knocked down, there's always an appeal...until the nine justices have the last say.
Will Sam's quest end in an epic fail, or will he be the hero who saves childhood for all time?--from the publisher
272 pages 978-1328799203 Ages 10-13
Sam is tired of homework. It's not that he wants to do nothing but play video games when he gets home from school-- he wants to be outside, build things with his dad, play piano, and do things OTHER than homework for hours and hours. His friend Alistair would use his time to cook, and Catalina wants to memorize Pi to a thousand digits past the decimal.
When Sam finally gets fed up with one project too many threatening to ruin his weekend, he gets suspended for causing a disruption in class. When his older sister, Sadie, points out that he can't be suspended without due process, a thought takes hold. Could he really protest homework and take it all the way to the Supreme Court?
With the help of his neighbor, Mr. Kalman (who is a retired lawyer who had worked on school cases before), the group (including friend Jaesang) make plans. They raise funds (by selling California Mission projects as well as science fair projects!) to finance their court cases, and lay their plans very carefully. Mr. Kalman's knowledge of the legal system is very helpful, but the case is thrown out by the two lower courts before the group heads to Washington.
By this time, there is a huge show of support by children throughout the US who have as their rallying cry the fact that studies have not shown that homework is helpful, and that students need to have free time to process information and to be curious individuals. Can Mr. Kalman and Sadie manage to not only research the case well but argue it effectively?
Strengths: This is definitely Avi's Nothing But the Truth for the new millenium. Frank does an excellent job of making Sam's case seem like it might actually be something that the courts would take on, and Kalman's approach is great. There is even an overview of the "justices" and their different backgrounds that is quite fascinating, and gives a lot of insight into how an actual case might be considered. The fact that Sam and his friends want their free time for productive purposes helps. Parents are supportive, even though Sam's case costs his mother her job as a realtor! The plot moves along quickly, and is just a lot of fun. Frank's experience in an actual middle school classroom is evident. Will definitely purchase.
Weaknesses: Selling projects made me a little uneasy. While I've heard that the Californian Mission projects are very problematic, delving into academic dishonesty wasn't the best way for the children to earn money.
What I really think: I taught middle school Latin, and cannot imagine any 6-8th grader learning that subject without any homework. Just... doesn't work. Considering that I found the basic premise of the book didn't hold, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. This is a testament to Frank's writing, and the target demographic will be delighted with the idea of doing away with homework in a way that I definitely was NOT!
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, LIbrary Media Specialist, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com