Sophisticated concepts and serious programming make for an easy, enjoyable game for families.

A programming manual for parents and kids to use together.

This is a straightforward, crystal-clear guide to programming in Python, the language used for Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube, according to the introduction. Speaking both to parents (with advice for teaching code to kids of various ages) and kids (“Python does your homework”), the instructions are easy enough for advanced middle-graders (or technophobe parents) to follow alone. Payne makes coding intuitive, explaining what every line of code does in a way that encourages, often explicitly, the new coder to experiment just to see what happens instead of asking them to simply regurgitate the example codes he provides. And the codes he provides usually have flashy results—such as brightly colored, cool computer-generated artwork; homework-help programs; and games. By marrying artistic visuals (and their mathematical bases) to textual explanations of the code, the book provides points of entry for a wide variety of learning styles. Although it’s math-heavy, it presents the math as a purposeful means to an end—it doesn’t intimidate and likely will result in increased confidence in school. The full-color printing includes charming spot illustrations, code-output screenshots, and example codes in a layout and color scheme identical to the Python editor.

Sophisticated concepts and serious programming make for an easy, enjoyable game for families. (Python setup information, Pygame setup instructions, module-building instructions, glossary, index, website address for updates) (Nonfiction. 8 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5932-7614-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Brief yet inspirational, this story will galvanize youth to use their voices for change.

Teen environmental activist and founder of the nonprofit Hannah4Change, Testa shares her story and the science around plastic pollution in her fight to save our planet.

Testa’s connection to and respect for nature compelled her to begin championing animal causes at the age of 10, and this desire to have an impact later propelled her to dedicate her life to fighting plastic pollution. Starting with the history of plastic and how it’s produced, Testa acknowledges the benefits of plastics for humanity but also the many ways it harms our planet. Instead of relying on recycling—which is both insufficient and ineffective—she urges readers to follow two additional R’s: “refuse” and “raise awareness.” Readers are encouraged to do their part, starting with small things like refusing to use plastic straws and water bottles and eventually working up to using their voices to influence business and policy change. In the process, she highlights other youth advocates working toward the same cause. Short chapters include personal examples, such as observations of plastic pollution in Mauritius, her maternal grandparents’ birthplace. Testa makes her case not only against plastic pollution, but also for the work she’s done, resulting in something of a college-admissions–essay tone. Nevertheless, the first-person accounts paired with science will have an impact on readers. Unfortunately, no sources are cited and the lack of backmatter is a missed opportunity.

Brief yet inspirational, this story will galvanize youth to use their voices for change. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22333-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020


Necessary for every library, personal or otherwise.

As fresh and funny as ever, a classic compendium of physics in action gets a light but needed makeover.

Most of the “Things” here are still working the way they did back in 1988, 1998, and 2004, when the original and the revised editions dropped—but along with sporting new and spruced-up colors, some of the content, notably the section dubbed “The Digital Domain,” has been brought into the 21st century. Thus, the space shuttle and the VCR are no more, the workings of the telephone have been replaced by those of smartphones and telephone networks, and the jump jet has given way to the quadcopter and other types of drones. But the details that made the earlier editions delightful as well as edifying remain. In the illustrations, flights of tiny angels move the “first whoopee cushion” into place, discombobulated woolly mammoths get caught up in silly side business while helping to demonstrate scientific principles, and best of all, Macaulay’s brilliantly designed, engagingly informal diagrams and cutaways bring within the grasp of even casual viewers a greater understanding of the technological wonders of both past and present.

Necessary for every library, personal or otherwise. (index) (Reference. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-82438-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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