Between the integrated logic and the consciously diverse cast, a wonderful series launch.

THE FRIENDSHIP CODE

From the Girls Who Code series , Vol. 1

A computer coding club brings together a diverse group of girls to solve a mystery.

African-American Lucy is thrilled to finally be a sixth grader and able to join the coding club—she needs to learn to code as quickly as possible, as her goal is to create an app to help her cancer-stricken uncle keep on top of all of his medicines. But things don’t go as expected, and Lucy finds herself working with her former friend, Latina Sophia, intimidating Asian fashionista Maya, and new white kid Erin, and instead of using computers they’re making…sandwiches? Although it’s a valid exercise in computer-instruction logic, Lucy wants to accelerate, and she gets a chance through a mysterious note that, in code syntax, offers a deal: if Lucy follows all instructions from this and subsequent notes, she’ll learn to code. The notes guide her through exercises that illustrate fundamental coding principles in enjoyable ways and also bring her closer to her coding teammates, gaining understanding of and comradery with Maya and Erin as well as repairing the misunderstanding that ended her friendship with Sophia. But what really gets them working together is figuring out who is sending the notes—a mystery they devise a simple computer program to solve. The computer elements serve the story rather than the other way around, resulting in a substantive, amusing tale.

Between the integrated logic and the consciously diverse cast, a wonderful series launch. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54251-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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