An enjoyable book that can turn any kid (or adult!) into a programming wizard.



An introductory programming guide is structured around a whimsical original fairy tale in a land run on the Ruby programming language.

Weinstein turns his professional programming expertise and his experience as a computing educator designing curriculum for Codeacademy to creating an accessible introduction to coding for kids. The first chapter gives instructions on downloading and installing Ruby, as well as when to program “in window” and when to use a text editor. For an optimal experience, readers should read it while at a computer, inputting the suggested code and playing with it alongside the characters. The story stars young Ruby wizards Scarlet and Ruben, who find a king in great distress. After solving his problem, they notice more mishaps in the code that runs the kingdom. Deducing sabotage, they must travel the kingdom reprogramming code to correct errors and apprehend the guilty party. An episodic structure makes the book easy to put down and pick up again (as it’s a lot of information for one sitting), and chapters frequently end with “You Know This!” recaps. Comprehensive backmatter includes further resources, troubleshooting and more. After completing their introduction to Ruby, readers can move onto Nick Morgan’s JavaScript for Kids (2014), which, though it doesn’t present a narrative such as this, is an absolutely phenomenal guide with a crisp design and clear, concise explanations.

An enjoyable book that can turn any kid (or adult!) into a programming wizard. (index) (Nonfiction/fantasy. 10 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59327-566-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)


Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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A vivid mix of local color and tongue-in-cheek wit, albeit with loud sour notes.


From a Labrador native, homespun “recitations” in equally homespun rhyme.

Written for oral performance (most are available as recordings) and easy to read aloud despite plenty of regional jargon, these 13 original yarns feature big dollops of wry humor. There’s fog thick enough to eat (“Mother used to dice it with pork fat and onions, / Or she’d mix it with mustard as a poultice for bunions”); the horrific consequences of trying to unclog a septic tank using a pump fitted with an old boat motor; and the experiences of a “Man of La Manche,” who is abducted not by aliens but Capt. Kirk, attempting to beam a moose up to the Enterprise. Recurring characters include 90-year-old “Super Nan,” who vanquishes a bullying polar bear at Bingo, and Uncle Jim Buckle. Paddon trips hard over the edges of good taste in “Berries,” a violent tale of a berry-picking war during which Jim takes a second wife, “a woman best described as Atilla the Hen,” after his first is killed by a land mine—but even that one comes to an uproarious climax, followed by an amicable resolution: “I guess blood’s…even thicker than jam.” It’s hard to tell from the small, roughly drawn figures in Major’s appropriately sober vignettes, but the (human) cast is likely all white. The glossary is extensive and essential for readers outside of Newfoundland and Labrador.

A vivid mix of local color and tongue-in-cheek wit, albeit with loud sour notes. (Verse tales. 11-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-927917-15-2

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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