Team BFF: Race to the Finish by Stacia Deutsch AND Code It! Create It! Ideas and Inspiration for Coding by Sarah Hutt
This summer, I reviewed the first two books in the Girls Who Code series, The Friendship Code and Learn to Code and Change the World. In 2012, Reshma Saujani founded Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. I used this quote from Saujani in my previous review, but I think it bears repeating, "By 2020, there will be 1.4 million open jobs in computing. These jobs are some of the country's highest-paying and fastest growing career paths. BUT GIRLS ARE ON TRACK TO FILL JUST 4% OF THEM. If this were a pie chart, that wouldn't even qualify for a slice." With the fiction and non-fiction books in the Girls Who Code series, coding and computing become as every day and commonplace as using a smart phone is, which is a smart move.
In book two of the Girls Who Code fiction series, Team BFF: Race to the Finish, Lucy, Maya Sophia and new girl Erin have gelled as a team in the after school coding club they are part of. The girls are preparing for a hackathon where they will have to code a robot to travel through a maze while also adding modules that will impress the judges. When Leila, an immigrant from Pakistan who wears a headscarf, is left without a team, the girls invite her to join Team BFF. Things seem to be going great until Sophia's parents throw a wrench into their plans, telling her she has to stay home and babysit her little sisters the day of the hackathon. Hoping she can convince her parents to hire a babysitter, she doesn't tell the team about the impending disaster until it's too late - the deadline for dropping a team member has passed and the whole team will have to drop out. The plot of Team BFF: Race to the Finish is a bit contrived and slow. Hopefully this is a sophomore slump and the next book in the series will deliver on the promise of great stories about everyday girls that combine coding and computing with real life problems. The final chapters of the book where the girls are coding and building their robot are exciting and interesting, but they almost feel like too little, too late.
The non-fiction title in the Girls Who Code series, Code It! Create It! Ideas & Inspirations for Coding uses the characters from the fiction series as tour guides in this book that is an instructional and inspirational journal and is a great way to show girls the coding many ways that coding can be used with imagination, creativity and meaning. After some explaining of what coding can be used for writing prompts get readers thinking about what they might want to create. Interspersed between planning pages are games that have readers doing word searches loaded with coding words, guessing games about what items have been made using code, and pages of ciphers created with code. Informational pages introduce readers to the vocabulary of computing as well as women in history who made contributions to the world of computing. Readers are also invited to make inspiration boards, journal about places they find creative inspiration and, using templates, design apps. It all adds up to a really fantastic book for readers who may have dabbled with code but aren't sure how to take it to the next level.
Coming in 2018!
Source: Review Copies