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Google it? Nah. Kid asks book author for homework help

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Remember the good old days when you could bribe a friend in class to do your schoolwork for you? Or at least the more recent days when you could get out of a jam by dialling up an exam or essay to buy?

Well, one kid has taken cheating to new heights: Beg the author whose book you're supposed to do a project on, to do the work for you.

A Grade 11 student started off with slightly less gall, contacting a book reviewer, hoping she would send information about a book she'd reviewed, The Girls Who Saw Everything. She declined.

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After the reviewer tweeted about it, the book's author, Sean Dixon, decided to step in and contact the student directly, offering a lecture and a summary of his own.

The comic exchange now appears on Mr. Dixon's blog, The Lacuna Cabal (named for another of his books) under the title The Kid Who Was Supposed to Read My Book.

"Kid,

"Your teacher will never believe you wrote this. You should tell him/her that you fell behind and wrote to the author and he sent you this. The only reason why I'm doing this is because it mirrors an action that happens near the end of the book.

"But you should also read the book. It's pretty good."

Emboldened, the "Kid" writes back a lengthy, incomprehensible plea: "...I was wondering if you could maybe help me out with one more thing? please!!! the actual project is to come up with an theme that you found in the novel, then create an Painting or an Comic Script that has : – 10 techniques ( and actual examples) to include. ....I kinda knew about the summery of the book before i messaged you, but I was just making sure that I got the plot right. But I really really need help with this, because i only have 1 more day left to finish this, and this is worth 25 per cent of my mark and, if I dont do well on this project then, I FAIL this course. so can you please please please please help me!!!! ( and btw I am going to buy an coppy of this novel and read it in this summer)."

Mr. Dixon eventually gives the student the heave-ho, but not before telling him or her to try harder – and that the stab at a theme of the book is dead wrong ("KID! The theme of the novel is not 'Sometimes death is the only option'. That is not the theme. It's about as far from the theme as you could possibly get."). The brouhaha lives on. As Mr. Dixon notes, comments on the website Metafilter show how this story has struck a nerve.

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Many slammed teachers for assigning a convoluted project in the first place – and shared their own kids' Google-driven homework assignments. Others went for what's- with-kids-these-days bile: "At the risk of sounding old ... what is it with kids now in high school being unable to write complete sentences with punctuation and capitalization? Sentences written by these bright young things always end up as long, rambling, impossible to read fragments ...

"I don't get it," posted suburbanbeatnik.

While the kid may not get props for homework diligence, he or she has got be credited with some monster chutzpah. In the end ... that could get you farther in this crazy mixed-up world.

Does this top any of the shortcuts you've tried in high school?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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