BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Secret Coders: Paths & Portals (Volume 2) by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes

Seventh graders Hopper, Eni, and Josh have managed to “get with the program” since Volume 1, but they still haven’t learned how not to get stuck in places they shouldn’t be.

Volume 2 opens with a test of their burgeoning skills, which – failed attempts notwithstanding – eventually earns them “a look at those secrets” that Mr. Bee begrudgingly agrees to share. By doing so, Mr. Bee reveals himself to be much more than the acerbic Director of Facilities – and what he reveals through various paths and portals is a history that the trio never guessed: “Stately Academy is built on the grounds of another learning institution, long abandoned, called the Bee School.”

Of the few old school remnants is a room full of Little Guy-like robot turtles who represent what was once a hopeful “utopia built upon [the] deepest ideals about human nature and technology.” Professor Bee thinks he was proven wrong. Hopper, Eni, and Josh are determined to show he’s right.

Settling into a bonafide team in Volume 2 – complete with Coders jerseys! – Hopper, Eni, and Josh tackle snowflakes and clever grids, and even take on the whole rugby team and Principal Dean. In between, Hopper figures out how to code her Mandarin homework to (temporarily) please Ms. Hu (who also happens to be her mother, oh ouch!) but then gets busted for cheating. Talk about touch love!

Creators Gene Luen Yang (yes, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature) and Mike Holmes are clearly having too much fun. STEM-lovers-educators-activists will be especially appreciative, but such entertaining, contemporary storytelling should certainly encourage new audiences to join the Secret Coders team.

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2016


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