Skip to main content

Secret Coders: Paths & Portals by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes, 96pp, RL 4

Today marks the start of 
Try an HOUR OF CODE!!




Paths & Portals follows last year's Secret Coders: Get With the Program!, the second book in Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes's graphic novel series that blends lessons in coding with a great cast of characters and a layered mystery. Yang, who is currently the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature is a man with a mission and his platform is "reading without walls," which means Yang wants kids to explore the world through books.  Specifically, Yang wants kids to, 

read books about people who don't necessarily look like or live like them. I want them to read books in a variety of different formats - prose, books in verse, and comic books - and finally, I want people to pick topics that they might find intimidating. I know a lot of kids find the inner working of computers intimidating, and I hope Secret Coders will help them with that.


As a former high school computer science teacher (for 17 years!) and as a brilliant graphic novelist and the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Yang seems perfectly poised to start this reading revolution. In fact, you can read more about the Reading Without Walls Challenge here. And, for readers who want some more hands-on learning, visit SecretCoders.com.

As a parent and a librarian, I understand and do my best to embrace and espouse coding. If you and your kids aren't on board  with Secret Coders or the importance (and joys) of coding yet, this article from Wired magazine  5 Reasons You Should Be Reading Secret Coders is a fantastic place to start, for learning about the value of coding, the value of graphic novels and the Reading without Walls Challenge. I shepherd students to Hadi Partovi's awesome code.org and I spend time exploring it myself. But I'll be honest, the hands-on learning of coding on a computer is a lot easier for me to grapple with than the way that it is presented on the page in the Secret Coders graphic novels. But, I am old and I don't think this is the case for most kids.
Paths & Portals finds Hopper, Eni and Josh about to write a program that would have the turtle robot walk along the crazy design on the ground. As with both books, the text frequently encourages readers to stop and code, with pen and paper or on a computer. Visit SecretCoders.com to find video tutorials by Yang that introduces kids to Logo, an educational programming language designed in 1967, including a link to install UCBLogo on your computer and get coding. Through trial and error, the kids write the code that has the turtle walk the perimeter of the shape and Mr. Bee grudgingly opens the portal, as promised.
The three are treated to a room full of turtle robots, some of which Mr. Bee uses to mow the lawns of the Stately Academy and pick up trash. He reveals that, beneath the grounds of Stately Academy, there once was another school - the Bee School. There, students, teachers and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. And Hopper's dad was a student there! Mr., or Professor Bee, teaches the kids some Logo primitive commands, showing them the artistic possibilities of code, before they have to leave. Hopper pockets a tiny turtle robot on her way out and promptly uses it to do her Mandarin homework, getting her in trouble with her mother, who is also her teacher, and the principal, Mr. Deen, who is not quite what he seems. The three have a run in with the rugby team that, besides getting a little violent, results in the theft of the robot Mr. Bee let them use. But why? And why did Mr. Deen have the rugby team tie up Mr. Bee? And what do they want with the hidden turtle robots? We'll find out next year when Secret Coders: Secrets & Sequences is published!



Coming March 7, 2017!!

 Source: Review Copy


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…