Positive, smart, empowering philosophies and thinking skills couched in a wacky adventure.

LAUREN IPSUM

A STORY ABOUT COMPUTER SCIENCE AND OTHER IMPROBABLE THINGS

A lost girl travels through a fantastical Alice in Wonderland–esque world filled with The Phantom Tollbooth–like computer-programming metaphors.

After an argument with her mother, Lauren Ipsum goes for a walk through the woods. Quickly lost in Userland, she starts to encounter physical manifestations of computer science ideas, such as the Jargon creatures, seemingly benign at first but quickly revealed to be obnoxious. The various loony characters she encounters each champion different aspects of logic—specifically, the kinds of logic and perspectives used in programming and problem-solving—giving Lauren the tools she needs for her rambling journey home. While serving as an introduction to programming for kids, it avoids the nitty-gritty of code in favor of clever analogies that guide readers toward the type of thinking that will facilitate learning computer science. The extensive backmatter—a segment titled “The Field Guide to Userland”—details how Lauren’s logic solves the various puzzles and how the solutions relate more practically to computer science, as well as providing jumping-off points for future subject exploration. The story is funny enough on its own, but the sly puns missed the first time around will keep the book fresh for those rereading after learning more programming. The intelligent female protagonist and casually multiethnic illustrations normalize inclusivity in computer science for young readers.

Positive, smart, empowering philosophies and thinking skills couched in a wacky adventure. (Fantasy/philosophy. 8-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59327-574-7

Page Count: 184

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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90 MILES TO HAVANA

After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

 

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-168-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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