Happy Thursday, guys!
Welcome to the Reading Without Walls blog tour. We're showing love for Gene Luen Yang's Path & Portals (Secret Coders #2) today, but also celebrating the Reading Without Walls platform.
We're sharing our review of the first two books in Gene's series, a mini review for another awesome STEM book, some thoughts on the power of these books in changing how we view learning STEM subjects, and a giveaway.
Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes!
From graphic novel superstar (and high school computer programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang comes a wildly entertaining new series that combines logic puzzles and basic programming instruction with a page-turning mystery plot!
There's something lurking beneath the surface of Stately Academy—literally. In a secret underground classroom Hopper, Eni, and Josh discover that the campus was once home to the Bee School, an institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper and her friends are eager to follow in this tradition and become top-rate coders. But why are Principal Dean and the rugby team suddenly so interested in their extracurricular activities?
So when I was given the chance to join the Reading Without Walls blog tour, of course I jumped on board. In the Secret Coders series, Yang introduces us to Hopper, Enni and Josh. Hopper is a new student at Stately Academy, and quickly learns that the school isn't normal as she thinks.
There are coding-based clues all over the place, leaving Hopper, Enni and Josh to solve mysteries about the school, and to also better learn how to use code in their own lives. (And while strengthening their own interpersonal relationships, at that!)
Hopper is the star of the first two books, and readers will find her a relatable, intelligent heroine. She's half-Caucasian and half-Chinese, and has a wide range of interests ranging from basketball to figuring out puzzles, to stubbornly fighting (and eventually befriending!) Enni.
Though the background behind some of the first riddles that Hopper and Enni face initially feel complex, Yang and illustrate Mike Holmes explain them in a way that is easily digestible, and will encourage readers to actively take part. The coding aspects are enhanced with interesting backstory about the characters and their families - e.g. Enni's basketball talent - and only progress as we move onto book two.
While the books are short, they pack an amazing amount of thought, approach and dissemination into STEM subjects, and can be considered easily approachable by readers at any level. With Mike Holmes's black and white illustration, this series is a winner for sure.
Some additional thoughts...
I struggled with STEM-related subjects for most of high school, despite my interest in those areas. Because I wasn't able to learn it in the traditional format - much like the rote and repeat that Hopper complains about - I was told that I was "dumb" or "wasn't trying", which impacted my intellectual self-esteem greatly.
It wasn't until I arrived at college, that I learned that there were many different ways to pursue STEM subjects. A course called The Logic of Math was life-changing for me, and helped me begin to understand just how best for me to learn.
So I absolutely believe that Yang's book has the capacity to change young lives with its message on how to learn differently, and help those like myself. Don't give up. You can also find wonderful books like Human Body Theater, which hilariously and intelligently discusses the human body.
Check out the rest of the tour:
September 1: Jess at Reading Nook Reviews
September 2: Samantha at Forest of Words and Pages
September 5: Jennifer at YA Book Nerd
September 6: Maria at Maria's Mélange
September 7: Gigi at Late Bloomer's Book Blog
September 8: Jen at Starry Eyed Revue
September 9: Cheyenne at The Hollow Cupboards
September 12: Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings
September 13: April at Good Books and Good Wine
September 14: Cindy at Charting by the Stars
September 15: Erica at The Book Cellar
September 16: Sandie at Teen Lit Rocks
September 19: Asheley at Into the Hall of Books
September 20: Daphne at Gone Pecan
September 21: Mary Ann at Great Kids Books
September 22: Kathy at The Brain Lair
September 23: Michelle & Leslie at Undeniably (Book) Nerdy
September 26: Laurie at Reader Girls
September 27: Margie at Librarian's Quest
September 28: Victoria at Art, Books, & Coffee
September 29: Cee at The Novel Hermit
September 30: Amanda at Forever Young Adult
But there are also times when I want to be Gollum, but realize the importance of passing these books on. So I'm passing Gene's books on to you. Tell me why you think it's important we explore different ways of STEM learning, especially through avenues like coding below. Most inspired comment gets both books. (US/CAN).
About the author & illustrator
Gene Luen Yang has written and drawn many comics, including the hit Avatar: The Last Airbender series. American Born Chinese was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. He also won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Boxers & Saints. Yang lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.