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Author: Betsy Byars
Setting: “The Computer Nut” takes place in Kate’s small town. Overall, the different settings are in her house, in school, at a carwash, at Willie Lomax’s house, her dad’s office, a pep rally at her school’s football rally, and that’s basically where all the action takes place. Most of the time, the action takes place during the day. Towards the ending, however, most of the action takes place at night around 8 pm- 9pm.
Major Characters: The main character of “The Computer Nut” is Kate. Kate is like any other kid. She is obsessed with computers, she has red hair, and she is an average middle school student. She is receiving messages from an “alien” who calls himself BB-9. Willie Lomax is the boy who helps find out who is sending Kate messages over the computer. Willie is also Kate’s crush and he is the only one who is truly willing to help Kate find out who really is sending her messages over the computer. He is around Kate’s height, chubby, he has reddish/blondish hair, and is very interested in Kate’s mystery “alien.” BB-9 is the self-proclaimed “alien comedian” who wants to come down to Earth to make people laugh, since Earth is the only planet in the universe where people laugh. He is an adult’s age and can take form as anything he wants. He was once a cow on another mission to Earth. A physical description is not available. And lastly, Linda is Kate’s best friend. She is short, has brown hair, and very humorous.
Plot Summary: One day, for an art project, Kate is just drawing a picture of herself on her dad’s computer in her dad’s office. After she is all done with her self-portrait, she receives a message from a strange person who later reveals himself as BB-9. BB-9 is an alien in search of a good laugh on Earth, which he says is the only planet where people laugh. After a series of message, Kate hopes the person contacting her is her secret crush, Willie Lomax, who just so happens to know about computers. Kate is determined to find out who it is.
When Kate’s best friend, Linda, finds out about the messages, she goes on and on and insists about how it HAS to be Frank Wilkins, a boy who told Kate he loved her at band camp a couple years back.
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"The Computer Nut." 123HelpMe.com. 17 Oct 2018
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After the “test,” and a very humiliating event at the school cafeteria, Kate and Linda are convinced it isn’t Frank. Kate keeps receiving messages from the alien comedian and just has to find out who the person sending her messages is. After a pizza incident at the cafeteria with Frank Wilkins, Kate’s best friend comes up with another plan to find out who it is. Linda thinks it is Willie Lomax, and Kate hopes it is him, because he is her secret crush.
The plan to find out if it is Willie Lomax sending her messages is to go a school car wash and have him wash Kate’s dog and “accidentally” spill flea dip on him. If Willie looks at her in a funny way, Linda will know if it is him. But, after a big mess at the car wash, Kate and Linda know it is isn’t Willie. Kate is disappointed, because she was hoping it was Willie, her secret crush.
After two unsuccessful tries at finding out who BB-9 is, Kate is disappointed at the thought that no one is truly helping her find out who it is. Sure, her best friend is willing to help, but with sure-to-backfire plans that will just embarrass Kate. Kate apologizes to Willie for the flea dip incident and tells him her whole problem and how she hasn’t been herself lately. Kate is happy to find out Willie is ready and willing to help.
After about 3 days of communication with BB-9, Kate and Willie make plans to meet face to face with the alien comedian. Kate wants her family to go to where they are to meet so they could see the alien comedian. But, like always, everyone is too busy doing other things. Kate’s sister is too busy having a birthday party for her dog and inviting every dog in the neighborhood to come to the party. Her mom is too busy being a mom to go, and she insists that Kate should be careful when she meets him. Her dad is too busy doing repairs to go off to some burger joint to meet an alien. So, after 3 failed tries, Kate decides no one is willing to go. So she and Willie go on without them.
As they walk into the burger joint, they immediately spot him because of the weird, pink shirt he is wearing. When they start a conversation, Kate and Willie are surprised to hear him talk because he has a robotic voice. After hearing him, they are truly convinced that he really is an alien from outer space in search of a good laugh. In the conversation, he is telling them how depressed he is that, so far, no one on Earth has laughed at his jokes. So Willie and Kate make an attempt laugh at his jokes to make him feel better.
Kate wants BB-9 to go to her house so that he could meet her parents and his sister to prove she isn’t talking to some stranger playing a joke on her. They go home and find a big mess. The dog party went all wrong, and there were puddles all over the kitchen! Her father, mother, and sister think it is a carefully planned out joke to try and play a trick on them. Her dad says the robotic voice was a great touch added to the “practical joke.”
On their way back to the burger joint, BB-9, Kate, and Willie passed a middle school prep rally right before the game was about to start. BB-9, still depressed about the un-popularity of jokes, decided he wanted to try and make the crowd laugh. BB-9 tries, but fails. After mentioning the name of the team who are supposed to play football against the school, people begin saying he is from the opposing school. After a large misunderstanding, BB-9, Kate, and Willie get chased out of the stadium by an angry mob. They hardly make it.
After several and failing tries to get the humans to laugh at his jokes, BB-9 is depressed that no one on Earth laughed at his odd jokes. So, BB-9 finally decides to leave Earth and return to his lonely space ship filled with computers and robots to go back to a mission waiting for him.
After a long goodbye, Kate, and Willie watch BB-9 go back up into space on his mission to Cabrigllio, another planet in a far-away solar system. Kate and Willie are sad and depressed to realize that no one ever believed them and that there was no one there to actually meet the alien comedian. After the most exciting adventure of their lives, Kate and Willie go back home, knowing no one will ever believe them.
Critique: What I didn’t like about “The Computer Nut” is that is was in a way, unrealistic. Aliens don’t exist; even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to communicate with computers from Earth. Also, it never said in the story that she was connected to the Internet; making impossible for him to communicate with her.
On the other hand, I liked it because of its innocence. It didn’t have any political things in it, it wasn’t a dumb romance novel; it was fiction. It didn’t have the politically correct attitude that books now in days have. It was just a cool book about an alien encounter 2 kids had. That’s why I liked it.
Conflict: The major conflict is man vs. society; because the kids cant get politically correct adults to believe in an alien from outer space. The protagonist is Kate and the antagonists are her family and the rest of the people.
Style of Narrative: The style of narrative is 3rd person because it was written from the author’s perspective; not by Kate or any other character.