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

Today marks the start of 

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

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 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 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


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