The Cool Code by Deirdre Langeland, illustrated by Sarah Mai

Published by Clarion Books

Summary:  Zoey’s parents are starting their own business and don’t have time to homeschool her anymore, so she’s going to public school for the first time as an eighth grader.  Worried about fitting in, she’s used her considerable coding skills to create an app that will help her figure out what’s cool.  This takes the form of a little pink llama that constantly offers advice on what to wear, say, and do as she navigates her way through the first day of school.  When Zoey decides to join the coding club, she meets a couple of other kids who love coding as much as she does, and who are looking for their next big project.  Zoey reluctantly reveals her app to them, and they decide to upgrade it to give better advice.  Result?  Zoey’s now just about the coolest girl in school but feels pulled in 100 different directions and is at risk of losing her real friends.  224 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  A fun middle school graphic novel with dual messages to be yourself and to not let work take over your life (a lesson Zoey’s parents need to learn as well).  

Cons:  Call me old-fashioned, but I just can’t get behind the bug-eyed look for comic book characters.

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