Review: Secret Coders 5
Series are always tricky because they don’t stand alone. Readers will want to catch up on the earlier volumes of Secret Coders before starting volume 5. Even though I had read all the earlier volumes, the gap in time had me pulling at my memory—although this morning I told a student I was wondering if I had ever read volume 4 and perhaps that was the problem.
Secret Coders: Potions & Parameters
Writer: Gene Leung Yang
Illustrator: Mike Holmes
First Second, 2018
Grades 4 and up
The saga continues. Three friends—Josh, Eni, and Hopper—have found the secret of coding. Through this new knowledge they have been battling Professor One Zero, who is determined to create ultimate happiness while everyone—including Hopper’s father—looks zombie-like at the color green. But Hopper and her friends learn that the only salvation will be to travel to another dimension and retrieve a Turtle of Light. They must figure out the code first—learn it on their own—or they won’t be able to get home.
First and foremost, this is a fun adventure. The coding is peppered into the story and gives an opportunity for the reader to try it on their own. There’s a fun twist, with Eni revealing his true feelings for Hopper and Josh having feelings for Professor One Zero’s niece, who isn’t all that bad. Even if coding doesn’t interest a reader, they can find fun here too.
The artwork hints a bit at manga but has its own unique flair. With the three colors, green, white, and black, you have a sense of the oddness of the place. It pairs well with the mood. There’s a great mix of action and adventure here that’s portrayed well with the artwork.
Make sure to check out the website for more lessons on coding. I’m not sure which language it is and how it relates to the other popular programs like Scratch that are talked about in the coding world, but it certainly will give kids a sense of a 21st century skill.
I’ve had this series in my library for a couple of years, and it’s really starting to pick up steam. I had quite a few requests for volume 5 as soon as it came out.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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