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Code This!: Puzzles, Games, and Challenges for the Creative Coder in You

National Geographic. Aug. 2019. 160p. glossary. index. photos. websites. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781426334436; Tr $26.90. ISBN 9781426334443.
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Gr 3-7–Readers are encouraged to imagine that an all-purpose robot named Cody has to be programmed to help expeditions explore a mysterious cave and an area of the deep sea, fix a satellite in space, and navigate a tepui to photograph jaguars in Venezuela. Concepts such as algorithms, optimization, constraints, cryptology, and binary code are introduced with fun and workable hands-on activities. These activities do not need any high-tech gadgets; most call for things like masking tape, chalk, paper plates, and other people. The coding activities call for the lines to be written down on paper and checked against the solution in the back. A strength of this title is its clarity. The conversational tone is perfect for the intended age range. For example, early in the text, computer science is defined as the “art of figuring out how to do things in general” and programming or coding is “explaining how to do something in particular.” An unfortunate weakness is the lack of any sort of website/app tie-in component since as the challenges get more complicated, it becomes less exciting to write down the code and not see it executed.
VERDICT An applicable resource for intro to coding clubs at schools or libraries. An engaging introduction to basic and intermediate fundamentals of computer science and coding through various screen-free activities.

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