Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Book review - Secret Coders: Paths and Portals

Title: Paths and Portals
Author: Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
Genre: sci-fi/graphic novel
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A solid second offering

Summary(provided by publisher): There's something lurking beneath the surface of Stately Academy—literally. In a secret underground classroom Hopper, Eni, and Josh discover that the campus was once home to the Bee School, an institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper and her friends are eager to follow in this tradition and become top-rate coders. But why are Principal Dean and the rugby team suddenly so interested in their extracurricular activities?
From graphic novel superstar (and high school computer programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang comes the second volume of Secret Coders, a wildly entertaining new series that combines logic puzzles and basic programming instruction with a page-turning mystery plot!

My opinion: These books are a great way to teach kids the basic skills and philosophies associated with computer programming. Each program the characters learn builds on the skills they've learned previously. With each new idea, there is space left for the reader to work out a programming solution to a new problem.
And it's not just instruction. There is a larger plot, a purpose for the programming the characters are learning, as well as sub-plots related to character development. The art is eye-catching. 
My only complaint is that each book ends with an unsolved programming challenge. If you read these books as they are published, that means there are six months or more between writing a program and seeing the author-provided solution. This also means that when I started reading this volume, I was somewhat lost for the first few pages, not having access to the first book to reference the program in question.

More information: Paths and Portals releases August 30. 
See my review of the first Secret Coders book here.
Advance reader copy provided by NetGalley.

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