Sunday, November 24, 2019

Review - Coding Capers: Luci and the Missing Robot

Coding Capers: Luci and the Missing Robot
by Angela Cleveland & Tamara Zentic
illustrated by Juan Manuel Moreno
Date: 2019
Publisher: National Center for Youth Issues
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Join Luci and her friends as they go on an adventure to find a missing robot! In the process they learn the foundational concepts of coding, the increasing capabilities of technology, and the power of persistence.

Was it just a dream?! Luci wakes up after dreaming about robots only to learn that her teacher has a robot emergency at school! The class robot has disappeared, and the students must decipher codes to locate it, reprogram it, and return it.

We huddled together.

“Hurry! Read the card!”

Go to the gym where you’ll find a maze,
Up and down and then sideways,
Over and over with your group,
Not a pattern, but a ______.

This STEM-friendly tale takes children on a fun game of hide and seek that teaches coding terminology and how technology and computer science work together to create and manage so many of the things we use in our daily lives.

With a little ingenuity and a lot of perseverance, Luci and her friends follow the clues and end up with a surprise that will allow each of them to help others and inspire the next generation of leaders.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

My feelings about this one are all over the place. A good premise, weak writing, and passable illustrations combine to make a book that I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable recommending... even though the overall message is fine.

Luci is paired up with her friends to find a robot that their teacher has hidden somewhere in the school. They follow clues--learning about three different coding concepts along the way--until they reach their goal.

A trend I've noticed in self-published picture books lately is a tendency to italicize dialogue. This book does that... but only with the speech that's not spoken by the main character. There are grammar and punctuation issues throughout, and the writing really could have used some more speech tags.

As for the story, it's kind of unrealistic, and a bit confusing in places. There's a sort of jump after Luci and her friends find the third clue, and suddenly they're in the science lab. We don't know what the clue was that sent them there (I'm guessing it was the room number, but the text doesn't really say). This is a bit disappointing, because the puzzle is such a big part of the story; it's a shame it ended up glossed over. The ending is also kind of ridiculous, with the kids each receiving their very own robot to program. Luci plans on using hers to basically act as a service dog for her blind grandmother. I don't know if technology is there yet... but I'm fairly certain it wouldn't be found in a cheap robot won as a prize!

That said, I do like the coding aspect. Three concepts--algorithms, loops, and conditionals--are explained clearly through the narrative in an easy-to-understand way. So that's probably the strongest part of the book.

Overall, this is a book with a good premise that could use some work on the technical side, ironically enough. If the writing were cleaned up and made clearer (and the puzzle solution explained), this could be a good book for getting kids interested in learning how to code. I would, however, be sure to explain to kids that they shouldn't expect to be able to program a robot to act as a service animal.

Thank you to NetGalley and National Center for Youth Issues for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 1/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment