Erin loves being on stage. When the school announces an upcoming talent show, Erin knows she can come up with a winning performance. Erin also agrees to help the coding club with developing an app to help score the contestants. Erin knows she’s taking on a lot, but she’s determined to distract herself. Erin doesn’t want to think about her father’s deployment and staying busy is her solution.
With operation distraction in full force, Erin’s anxiety gets the best of her. She wants to pretend that everything is okay, but her stress levels keep increasing. Her friends from the coding club have always been there for her, but Erin doesn’t want to tell them what’s really going on in her life. Will Erin be able to handle the pressure? If she tells her friends the truth, will they still like her?
The fourth installment of the Girls Who Code series has the same lovable characters but is told from Erin’s point of view, which allows the story to focus on a new conflict. Readers will get a look at Erin’s thought process as she tries to use humor to diffuse stressful situations. Erin tries to hide her true feelings from her friends. Readers will relate to Erin’s struggle with anxiety and her fear of telling others. The story makes it clear that having anxiety should not be viewed as an embarrassment. Erin is told, “I think it’s really cool that you talked to a therapist about this. Getting professional help was definitely the mature way to handle it.”
Spotlight on Coding Club uses texting bubbles, emojis, and simple vocabulary, which makes the story easy to read and assessable to younger readers. The fourth book in the series focuses less on the girls’ friendship and more on Erin’s personal struggle. Although Erin’s struggle is real, the story contains less action than previous books. Along with Erin’s personal struggle, Maya struggles with asking a girl on a date. Although dating is a topic many preteens are interested in, Maya’s romantic interests seemed forced and added little to the plot. In the end, Spotlight on Coding Club teaches a valuable lesson about friendship and anxiety but lacks action and suspense.
- There is a short conversation about Maya asking another girl out on a date. Later in the story, Maya asks the girl to the movies and it is “definitely a date.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- “Oh my god” is used as an exclamation three times.