Paths & Portals

illus. by Mike Holmes. 96p. (Secret Coders: Bk. 2). First Second. Aug. 2016. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781626720763.
Gr 4–6—In this second installment in Yang and Holmes's graphic novel series, which takes place right after the first one ended, the coding gets serious. Students Eni and Hopper and the tag-along comic relief Josh expand their skills as they are tutored by Mr. Bee in his coding classroom and laboratory deep under the school. Mr. Bee reveals to them the history of his fall from grace and his former coding school and drops hints that he knew Hopper's father. The characters are diverse, and this volume begins to touch more on their family lives. The rugby team, hired by the evil principal to find Mr. Bee's most powerful robot turtle, provides most of the villainous action. The narrative is spread a little thin, but the clearly articulated coding lessons are integrated into the plot through the emotional connections among the characters. The children are learning to code with the language Logo, with clever allusions to Logo's history. The black, white, and green drawings are simple and dynamic, with slapstick humor and cleverly depicted coding problems.
VERDICT This sequel and the first book are essential for any graphic novel collection and libraries where kids are interested in coding.

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