Secret Coders (Volume 1) by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes
“Listen. I’m going to tell you a story — ” Well, of course, if two-time National Book Award finalist (third time will be the charm!) Gene Luen Yang is involved with the explicating, you’re going to listen, and listen well. This former high school computer science teacher is about reveal the Secret Coders.
Meet Hopper. She’s the new seventh-grade kid at Stately Academy, supposedly the “best school in town.” But it looks more like a haunted house, where the trees, birds, buildings are all more creepy than welcoming. And then there’s the acerbic janitor who never has a friendly word for anybody.
Her first student encounter is with three boys who turn out to be “[i]diot jerk-faces.” One throws chocolate pudding on her head for no good reason, so she’s forced to teach him what “lung pudding” is to even the score. Her first day in the classroom is “even more horrible than [she] expected,” with the Mandarin teacher being “[t]he worst.”
Lunch starts out all alone, but then pudding-ed Eni appears to ask about Hopper’s 7-earrings. Between robot birds with too many eyes, the number 9, and binary number displays, Hopper makes a new friend, albeit with a clear warning: “Spit on me again and I’ll deck you.” BFF-hood, here they come!
Curious thrill seekers that they are (they’re tweens!), Hopper and Eni go hunting for skeletons and cash where they shouldn’t. What they find is a robot turtle with a leaf blower, a sidewalk grid, and truly angry birds (and not the kind trapped in a screen). “[T]hose things don’t happen to normal kids,” Hopper expounds after they land in a dumpster, barely making a [not very] clean escape.
Involved with more food projectiles, Hopper gets sent to the principal’s office but punishment can have its rewards, especially when Eni comes along for “[m]oral support.” She’s got three weeks trash duty with none other than Mr. Bee, that grumpy Director of Facilities, who clearly has plenty to hide. The answers lie in 0s and 1s.
Ready to code …?
Creating in cahoots with comics maker Mike Holmes, this dynamic duo introduces an irreverent, timely new series that makes magic – with coding. Read and believe: “Coding is creative and powerful,” Yang promises in his ending “Author’s Note.” “It’s how words turn into image and action. It truly is magic … we want to share a bit of that magic with you, and maybe inspire you to become a magician – a coder – yourself.”
If employment and economy numbers are any indicator, this is exactly the sort of magic this generation needs. See the bottom of the cover? “Get with the Program” is not a command the young ’uns can likely ignore.
Readers: Middle Grade