The coding club girls prepare a technological treat for the school dance while fashionista Maya deals with friendship and bad influences.
Over the summer, Chinese-American Maya got in big trouble hanging out with the neighbors’ visiting niece, shoplifter Nicole: Maya attempted to steal a bottle of nail polish and crashed into the display, getting busted and losing her mother’s trust. When Nicole permanently moves to the neighborhood and starts in at Maya’s school, she’s quick to apologize, repent, and seek to renew friendship with Maya. In spite of her mother’s misgivings, Maya gives Nicole another chance. But certain signs (some legitimate, some overblown) point to Nicole as trouble, and Maya’s limited time is at a premium. Nicole competes for it against the coding club and its newest project. Their task is to use code to creatively, artistically enhance the upcoming school dance, and they choose to program lights to respond to music. The troubleshooting and trial-and-error elements of the code storyline effectively demonstrate how and what can be done with code, and they are far more believable than the forced, frequently unsatisfying social storylines. The latter include some dance drama involving Latina Sophia, African-American Lucy, and white Erin that is easily resolved—Pakistani-American Leila is spared it altogether. Given Maya’s careful delineation of club members’ races, her failure to identify Nicole jars.
Despite the strong technology plot, the poor execution in the friendship storylines undermines the moral of the story. (Fiction. 8-12)