Swap’d

After her Click’d catastrophe, Allie Navarro is determined to redeem herself. So when the class gets an assignment to create a mobile game from recycled code, Allie pairs up with Courtney, her best friend from CodeGirls camp, to create the perfect app: Swap’d. After all, kids buy, sell, and trade stuff at school all the time, including candy, clothes, video games, and slime. So why not make a fiercely competitive, totally anonymous, beat-the-clock game out of it?

Once Swap’d is in full swing, Allie is certain that it’s the answer to all her problems. She’s making quick cash to help Courtney buy that really expensive plane ticket to come to visit her. It’s giving her an excuse to have an actual conversation with her super-secret crush. And it looks like she might finally beat her archenemy-turned-friend, Nathan. She’s thought of everything. Or has she?

Allie’s story picks up where Click’d left off. Similar to Click’d, Allie’s new app leads to a situation where Allie has to make tough decisions. Allie and her friends come up with a scheme to get Marcus’ attention: auction off Spanish tutoring in the hopes that Marcus will bid. During the bidding process, Allie ensures that Marcus wins by shutting down the auction several seconds before the end time. Then, when Allie finds out that selling items on campus is illegal, she has to decide whether to shut down Swap’d or wait until she has enough money to help purchase Courtney’s plane ticket.

Swap’d mostly revolves around Allie’s new app, the items that are being sold, and the need to make money. For the most part, Allie is a likable character, but her ability to create a complex app in a short amount of time is unrealistic. When it comes to her coding skills, she’s a little too perfect.

One positive aspect of Swap’d is the positive adult interactions. Allie’s computer teacher, Ms. Slade, praises Allie for making the right decision. In addition, Allie confides in Ms. Slade, who helps Allie come up with a solution. Allie collects the items that were sold and returns them. She also has to give the money back to who it belongs to.

Middle school readers will enjoy reading about Allie’s friend group and her crush. Throughout the story, some of Allie’s conversations appear in texting style with green quote bubbles. Some of the items for sale and the users’ avatars also appear in green. The fun format, the friendships, and a surprising twist will appeal to readers. Readers looking for a similar book should also check out the Girls Who Code Series by Stacia Deutsch.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • “Oh my God” is used as an exclamation twice.
  • Allie’s friend calls her a chicken twice. For example, when Allie won’t talk to a boy she likes, her friend calls her a chicken.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Emmy in the Key of Code

Twelve-year-old Emmy is the only one in her family who can’t make music to save her life. And now that her dad’s symphony job has uprooted her to a new city and school, everything seems even more off-key than usual.

Until a computer class changes her tune and Emmy discovers that her coding skills can really sing. Now life is starting to seem a little more upbeat, especially when computer wiz Abigail is around to share tips and tricks with. But can Emmy hold on to her newfound confidence with bad news and big secrets just around the corner? Or will her new life come to a screeching halt?

In Emmy in the Key of Code, Emmy’s uncertainty and her desire to belong takes center stage. Unlike her musically gifted parents, Emmy is fearful of being on stage and her singing isn’t beautiful. Even though Emmy loves music, she knows her voice isn’t stage-worthy. To make matters worse, Emmy moves to San Francisco, which is completely different than Wisconsin. Her clothes are all wrong, she’s unable to talk to others, and she goes through each school day alone. She doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere.

Emmy’s mother is an opera singer and her father plays the piano. Their musical influence on Emmy comes across both in her love of music as well as her speech. For example, Emmy describes her computer teacher as follows: “The teacher crescendos in / with a smile painted candy-apple red. / A color so joyful / so allegro / so dolce and vivace / that it spills into the rest of her face. . .” In addition, Emmy refers to musical pieces such as Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Readers who are unfamiliar with the musical terminology may become frustrated.

Emmy’s computer class and her teacher Ms. Delaney have a huge impact on Emmy’s life. To show this connection, some of the lines use coding symbols such as brackets, colons, and quotation marks. To make the coding vocabulary understandable, some pages explain what the code means. To highlight the JavaScript, the words are typed in a lighter font. Emmy also explains coding by comparing it to music.

Emmy’s story is told in a combination of poetry, JavaScript, music, and narrative. Like Emmy’s emotions, some of the text’s words appear broken up, jumbled, faded, and with other graphic elements that help convey Emmy’s emotions. Emmy, who is extremely likable, has a relatable conflict of a new town and not fitting in. In the end, Emmy and her friend Abagail both learn the importance of being “a girl who today / made the decision / to listen to what she loves.”

Readers will relate to Emmy’s desire for friendship and belonging. Lucido’s beautiful writing comes alive and teaches that programming is for everyone. In the end, Emmy discovers that her love of music and coding can blend to make something truly beautiful. Readers who love books about smart girls who can code should add Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Jerk is used three times. For example, Abigail asks why Francis is “such a jerk all the time.”
  • Abigail’s friends meet her outside of the computer class. One girl says, “I hate thinking of you in a class / with all these weirdos.”
  • A student asks Mrs. Delaney, “Why did you leave your fancy job / to come teach idiots / like me: }”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

In the Spotlight

Ellie’s best friend Kit loves to be in pageants. Kit wants to share the pageant experience with Ellie. Ellie is excited to spend time with Kit and meet new friends. Plus, Ellie has plenty of engineering ideas to help the other contestants with their acts, like building a light-up skateboard ramp for Kit.

One contestant, Kit’s not-so-nice pageant rival Melody, makes fun of Ellie’s tool belt and thinks engineering isn’t “ladylike.” Then Melody’s rabbit—part of her talent act—goes missing. Ellie knows she can build a contraption to catch him, but will Melody’s attitude make Ellie doubt that engineering has a place in the pageant?

In the Spotlight begins with several of Ellie’s engineering plans and sketches. Each sketch explains engineering ideas in a kid-friendly manner. The beginning of the story is slow, but once Ellie and Kit begin their pageant activity the pace picks up and has several positive life lessons. At first, Ellie is fearful that others will not appreciate her engineering talents, but her love of engineering and her knowledge of electricity and circuits refuses to be quelled. Through Ellie’s experiences, readers will learn to appreciate people’s different skills.

At first, mean girl Melody comes across as stereotypically selfish. However, as the story progresses her character becomes more well-rounded. Even though Melody is mean to Ellie and Kit, instead of being mean in return, both girls show Melody kindness. Kit believes that “sometimes it’s more important to be nice than to be right.” Because of the girls’ kindness, Melody realizes that her cruel behavior was wrong. Kit and Ellie also learn how forgiveness can be a path to friendship.

The story contains some fun illustrations of Ellie’s sketches; however, the story is text-heavy, which might make the story daunting for some readers. The story’s plot is easy to understand and vocabulary isn’t difficult, but the sentence structure is complex. Strong female characters, important life lessons, and positive adult interactions make the Ellie, Engineer a series worth reading. Ellie, Engineer would be an excellent choice for more advanced readers or to read aloud with a parent. Even though In the Spotlight is the third book in the series, the books do not need to be read in order.

Instead of being a stereotypical beauty pageant story, In the Spotlight is a cute story of friendship and accepting yourself. With realistic conflicts, engaging characters, In the Spotlight teaches life lessons along with electricity. Readers who enjoyed In the Spotlight should also try the Girls Who Code Series and Rosie Revere and The Raucous Riveters by Andrea Beaty.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Melody calls someone a weirdo.
  • One of the characters repeats their tee-ball coach who says, “Don’t get distracted! Stop scratching your butt!”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Iggy Peck, Architect

Iggy Peck has always loved to build things. When he was two, he used dirty diapers to erect a tall tower. His parents don’t forbid him from building, but they certainly don’t appreciate the architectural wonders that he builds. When Iggy enters second grade, his teacher forbids him from building. Instead of using tools, his teacher demands that he uses crayons. When the class goes on a field trip, a bridge collapses, trapping them on an island. Can Iggy use his building skills to prove that studying architecture can be a worthwhile, wonderful endeavor?

The full color, creative illustrations show Iggy’s imaginative inventions and the wonderfully expressive reactions of Iggy’s parents and teacher. Each page has fun illustrations and short rhyming lines. Parents will want to read the story aloud since it is not intended to be read for the first time independently.

Readers will enjoy the illustrations because they show Iggy’s inventions. The teacher is portrayed in a negative light because she not only sends Iggy to the principal for building an amazing chalk castle, but she also kills his interest in school. However, when Iggy uses his architectural skills to save the day, the teacher decides, “There are worse things to do when you’re in grade two, than to spend your time building a dream.”

The picture book Iggy Peck, Architect has creative illustrations, interesting characters, and teaches the importance of dreaming big. The ending of the book has the same classroom teacher and diverse students as Rosie Revere, Engineer, and Ada Twist, Scientist. Readers may enjoy comparing the pictures in all three books. Iggy Peck, Architect will delight younger children who are interested in building their dreams.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Rosie Revere dreams of being a great engineer. During the night, she uses trash and other supplies to construct inventions. Her ideas are endless. She makes hot dog dispensers, helium pants, and python-repelling cheese hats. When her uncle laughs at her creations, Rosie decides it’s best to hide the gizmos she creates. Will Rosie find the courage to share her creations, or will they stay hidden under her bed?

Younger readers will enjoy the full-page illustrations that bring Rosie’s creations to life. Each page has fun illustrations, short sentences, and rhyming text that will make the story fun to read aloud. Some of the vocabulary, such as ‘perplexed’ and ‘dismayed,’ may be difficult, and parents will have to explain the meaning. Even though Rosie Revere, Engineer is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently.

Many readers will relate to Rosie Revere who is afraid of failing and having someone laugh at her. The entertaining story shows how Rosie “kept her dreams to herself.” With the help of her great-great-aunt, Rose learns that “The only true failure can come if you quit.” The ending of the book has the same classroom teacher and diverse students as Iggy Peck, Architect and Ada Twist, Scientist. Readers may enjoy comparing the pictures in all three books.

 Rosie Revere, Engineer teaches readers that making mistakes does not make a person a failure. The creative illustrations, relatable character, and the important lesson make Rosie Revere, Engineer a story that will entertain readers as well as encourage them to build “gizmos and gadgets and doohickeys too.”

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Next Level

Ellie attempts a new project and accidentally makes a big mess. As punishment, her parents have Ellie help their elderly neighbor, Mrs. Curran. Ellie and her friends, Kit, and Toby, are supposed to help with little things like stuffing envelopes. However, when Ellie sees things around the house that need fixing, she puts her engineering skills to work.

Mrs. Curran assumes that Toby is responsible for fixing things around the house, even though they are Ellie’s ideas. Ellie wants to prove to Mrs. Curran that girls can do anything, even be engineers. How can Ellie use her engineering knowledge to change Mrs. Curran’s assumptions about engineers?

 Ellie, Engineer focuses on showing that girls can be smart and creative, but it also examines other stereotypes. Ellie makes many assumptions about “grandma-age people.” However, as she gets to know Mrs. Curran, she learns that those assumptions are incorrect. Through Ellie’s experiences, the theme becomes clear—making assumptions about others is wrong. Boys can play with dolls. Girls can be engineers. Not all old people are the same. Even though the story focuses on Mrs. Curran and her assumptions, she is not well-developed. However, in the end, Mrs. Curran’s perception changes, both about others as well as herself. The ending has a cute surprise that readers will enjoy.

Ellie, Engineer is a fun story about friendship and has the added benefit of teaching important lessons. Even though Toby acts like a know-it-all, Ellie realizes that “It didn’t seem right to be friends with Toby but still call him a name behind his back.” The story also reinforces the importance of asking permission before using someone else’s things.

Although the story’s plot is easy to understand, there is very little action that propels the plot forward. The first chapter starts out strong, with Ellie and her friends having an engineering disaster; however, after the first incident, the three friends do not discuss how to make the invention better. Instead, they seem to build a working elevator without much planning.

The story contains some fun illustrations of Ellie’s sketches; however, the story is text-heavy, which might make the story daunting for some readers. The story’s plot is easy to understand and would be engaging for elementary readers. Ellie, Engineer’s vocabulary isn’t difficult, but the sentence structure is complex. Strong female characters, important life lessons, and positive adult interactions make Ellie, Engineer a story worth reading. Ellie, Engineer would be an excellent choice for more advanced readers or to read aloud with a parent.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Spotlight on Coding Club!

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.

Sexual Content

  • 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.”

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • “Oh my god” is used as an exclamation three times.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Rosie Revere and The Raucous Riveters

Rosie Revere loves engineering. When Rosie’s Aunt Rose and her friends—a group of women who built airplanes during World War II—ask her to complete an important project, Rosie is excited to help. One of the Riveters has broken both her wrists and can’t participate in the Art-A-Go contest. Rosie and her friends use all of their knowledge to invent a tool to help her paint. Building a paintapolooza comes with setbacks. When Rosie begins to lose hope, her friends step in to help. Will Rosie and her friends be able to finish the paintapolooza in time for the big event?

Readers will initially be drawn to Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters because of the cheerful illustrations but will continue reading because of Rosie’s personality. Rosie is a strong character who uses problem solving to create her inventions. Rosie’s struggle is realistic; she doesn’t find the solution to her problem without failure. When Rosie feels “frustrated and frazzled,” she uses smart strategies to refocus. For example, Rosie’s great imagination causes her to focus on what-ifs, and “when that happened, Rosie had to remind herself to stop and think differently.”

Rosie’s illustration notebook, which contains lists and alliterations, will engage readers transitioning to chapter books. Rosie and her friends use imagination and teamwork to help someone in need. The story portrays the older generation in a positive light, and through her interactions with the Riveters, Rosie learns the importance of strong friendships. The story’s positive message is clear: “The only true failure can come if you quit.”

After the story concludes, additional text is included: a poem about a valve, information on valves, and historical information about the Riveters. The book ends with a “think about this” section that guides readers to apply the story to their life.

Instead of focusing on a simple plot, the book delves into too many characters and too many subplots. For instance, Rosie misinterprets one character’s behavior, but later discovers that the person was allergic to sunlight. Although there is historical information about the Blue River Riveters, the facts do more to complicate the story. For beginning readers interested in engineering, readers may want to begin with the Ellie, Engineer series before moving to The Questioneers series.

Sexual Content
• None

Violence
• None

Drugs and Alcohol
• None

Language
• None

Supernatural
• None

Spiritual Content
• None

Ellie, Engineer

Ellie is an engineer who makes things in her backyard workshop. Every year, Ellie makes her best friend, Kit, a birthday present. This year, Ellie isn’t sure what to make Kit for her birthday. When the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about getting Kit a dog for her birthday, Ellie knows just what to do.

Ellie decides to build the best doghouse ever. When one of the “jerk boys” from the neighborhood offers to help Ellie build the doghouse, Ellie is excited to show him about engineering. But their plans for the doghouse get so elaborate that Ellie must ask for help from a group of girls. Because Ellie knows the two groups don’t get along, Ellie hides the fact that both groups are working on the doghouse. But her secret backfires and soon everyone is mad at Ellie, including Kit. Will Ellie be able to figure out a way to get herself out of the doghouse?

 Ellie, Engineer shows that girls can be smart and creative. The story contains fun illustrations of Ellie’s sketches and has a how-to guide to tools. As Ellie works with one of the boys from the neighborhood, she realizes that her perception of him was not correct. In the end, the message is clear, “There’s no such thing as Girl Stuff or Boy Stuff. There’s only Ellie Stuff and Not-Ellie Stuff.” Ellie, Engineer is a fun story about friendship and has the added benefit of teaching new vocabulary.

The story’s plot is easy to understand and would be engaging for early elementary readers.  Although Ellie, Engineer’s vocabulary isn’t difficult, the sentence structure is complex, which may make reading difficult for newly independent readers. However, the book would be an excellent choice for more advanced readers or to read aloud with a parent.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Ellie and her friends are upset that the neighborhood boys wouldn’t let them play soccer with them, so they build a balloon launcher and soak them. ”They laughed and screamed and dropped a few balloons, which exploded on the ground, and they could hear the boys yelling and shouting.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • The neighborhood boys are referred to as “jerks boys.”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

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