LAUREN IPSUM

A STORY ABOUT COMPUTER SCIENCE AND OTHER IMPROBABLE THINGS

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

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. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

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. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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