Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Twelve-year-old Hopper can't help but notice that there's something strange about her new school; the spooky architecture, leafless trees, and robotic birds with too many eyes allude to a mystery hiding just beneath the surface at Stately Academy. Hopper isn't alone in her suspicion, and she and her new friend Eni resolve to get to the bottom of it. After an eye-opening revelation, they realize that they can use simple programming language to unlock Stately Academy's secrets. Yang (Boxers & Saints) sneaks coding lessons into the story, imparting the basics of binary numbers and scripting in the form of riddles posed to protagonists and readers. With this knowledge, Hopper and Eni make startling discoveries that put their coding skills to the test, including the operation of a silent, chelonian robot that immediately and precisely obeys its user's every command. Accented with vivid emerald green, Holmes's bold cartoony illustrations are a natural fit for Yang's geeky enthusiasm, and their combined effort offers an enticing first taste of coding that may very well yield some converts. Ages 8-12. Author's agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Sept.)? © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-8-A mysterious school, transition to mastery, and an exciting new language run through this excellent new graphic novel. But it's not magic wands that dictate the new characters' skills -it's coding. Hopper, an enthusiastic 12-year-old girl (named after programmer Grace Hopper), has just started school at the creepy Stately Academy. After getting in a fight that involves "lung pudding" (a loogie!) with Eni (based on NBA star Chris Bosh), Hopper and Eni become friends while unraveling the secrets of the school. Robotic birds, family troubles, and sinister, child-hating school administrators lead to a story both emotionally rich and rife with learning opportunities. Readers will feel themselves thinking in a new way as they watch Hopper and Eni transform into coders on a mission, but the story never feels pedantic. The graphic novel format is effective and will appeal to everyone from computer lovers to reluctant readers to mystery fans. The black and green art is effective and straightforward, and the pacing of the panels is excellent. The book is important in light of issues of diversity in the computer programming world; Hopper is biracial, and Eni is African American, and both have multiple dimensions to their characters (they are more than just computer nerds). This first volume ends on a cliff-hanger with real life magic: the magic of coding made accessible. VERDICT An excellent first purchase that introduces readers to the power of computer programming through an engaging graphic mystery.-Lisa Nowlain, Darien Library, CT © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Hopper is not excited to start a new school, which looks more like a haunted house. Her classes are boring, she runs afoul of her teachers, and, worst of all, no one wants to sit with her at lunch. Her only company is a weird bird who opens a third eyeball. What could be going on? Hopper's classmate Eni thinks he knows: the birds are robots, and they're responding to numbers in binary. From there, Eni and Hopper discover all kinds of coding-based tricks around school. They figure out a lock combination, discover a robot, pull a prank on their classmates, and, thrillingly, find a hidden passageway. Now they're not only playing around with programming but investigating a mystery! Holmes' blocky cartoon illustrations, in black, white, and green, clearly depict basic programming concepts with tidy visual cues, such as grids of floor tiles. Yang and Holmes do such a great job explaining the concepts that even programming newbies will be likely to catch on. A cliff-hanger ending hints at deepening mysteries to come.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Creepy birds, locked doors, a crazy janitor. Stately Academy looks more like a haunted house than a schoolat least to twelve-year-old newcomer and narrator Hopper. But she soon finds a like-minded ally in basketball star Eni. With a crucial assist from Hoppers earrings (which are shaped like 7s), Eni discovers that Statelys strange birds are actually robots whose eyes display binary numbers. Nosing around campus, Hopper and Eni then find a programmable turtle robot and pages of code. A cliffhanger ending (which comes a bit too soon) leaves the new friendsand readersfacing a do-or-die programming challenge. Its an inspiredand inspiringmash-up of computer science and mystery, thanks in part to well-thought-out explanations and, even more importantly, visuals. Its notable that Hopper is a girl; playing against type, shes a hot-headed rookie coder partnered with the even-keeled, more tech-savvy Eni. At key moments, Hopper pauses the action and pulls readers into the graphic novel, asking them, for example, to use their new binary know-how to figure out a locks combination. Its a clever gambit that gets readers invested both in the programming concepts and in the storyline. Convincing kids that coding truly is magic is Yangs and Holmess agenda here, and their series opener certainly does the trick. An authors note is appended. tanya d. auger (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Hopper's first day at Stately Academy goes terribly until her "7"-shaped earrings trigger a code in a robot bird, commanding it to display three eyes. Classmate Eni, whose father is a software engineer, kindly explains the controlling binary code to Hopper. The user-friendly explanation takes advantage of the graphic-novel format, providing a visual alongside the narrative description. The plot makes manipulating binary a game, inviting readers to decode number sequences alongside the characters. When they decode a combination lock on a shed, Hopper and Eni enter it (against the wishes of the villainous, crotchety, old janitor) and uncover its secret contentan adorable robot programmed to clean the sidewalks. This programming too is thoroughly explained visually, then put to an unorthodox application against some kids who bully Hopper. Other villains include an over-the-top creepy visitor to the school making a mysterious demand of the principal and the student-hating principal himself. The school's coded secrets that the protagonists unravel lead to a showdown that goes straight for cliffhanger without a hint of resolutionright when the story feels like it's just getting going. Worse, the abbreviated story leaves little room for characterization other than introducing Hopper's family background as conflict to be addressed in a later installment. Hopper is Asian-American, and Eni appears to be African-American. Despite the frustrating lack of conclusion, the friendly art and nifty concept will leave readers eager for the next book, which should be able to get off to a rocketing start. (Graphic mystery. 8-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.