Team BFF: Race to the Finish by Stacia Deutsch & other Girls Who Code Books

November 1, 2017 Middle Grade, Reviews 12

Today I’m featuring the Girls Who Code books on Feed Your Fiction Addiction. These books are aimed at middle school girls and encourage them to think about coding and technology in a new way. Since 2012, Girls Who Code has taught computing skills to and inspired over 10,000 girls across America–and they’re just at the beginning of their mission to close the gender gap in tech.

There are two fiction books that follow a diverse group of girls learning to code, a nonfiction book that’s described as “Part how-to, part inspiration, and all fun,” and a coding journal of sorts where girls can find ideas for coding and learn to use the things they love as inspiration for coding.

The second fiction book and the journal were both published yesterday, so I’m going to focus on those, but my 13-year-old daughter and I also read the first fiction book (The Friendship Code), so I’m going to talk about that one too. I’ll actually start with that one, since it’s the first in the series.


Team BFF: Race to the Finish by Stacia Deutsch & other Girls Who Code BooksThe Friendship Code by Stacia Deutsch
Series: Girls Who Code #1
Published by Penguin Workshop on August 22nd 2017
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Pages: 144
Source: Library
My content rating: Middle Grade
My rating:
4 Stars

Perfect for fans of The Babysitters Club and anyone interested in computer science, this series is published in partnership with the organization Girls Who Code!

Loops, variables, input/output - Lucy can't wait to get started with the new coding club at school. Finally, an after school activity that she's really interested in. But Lucy's excitement turns to disappointment when she's put into a work group with girls she barely knows. All she wanted to do was make an app that she believes will help someone very special to her.

Suddenly, Lucy begins to get cryptic coding messages and needs some help translating them. She soon discovers that coding - and friendship - takes time, dedication, and some laughs!

add-to-goodreads 
My Take copy3

This first book in the series introduces us to Lucy, who is super excited to start the coding club at her school. Lucy wants to learn to code for a very personal reason—she wants to create an app that will help her uncle, who has cancer. But she finds that learning to code isn’t nearly as simple as she thought and she gets frustrated when coding club moves way too slow for her. When she starts to receive mysterious notes with cryptic instructions that insist they will help her learn to code, she’s hesitant at first. But she soon discovers that following the mystery is fun and she just might be learning more along the way than she thought.

This was a great introduction to the series and to all of the girls in coding club. The book explores dynamics between middle school girls in a fun and interesting way. First off, there’s Lucy, who is enthusiastic about coding and really wants to use it to help people. Then there’s her sporty ex-best friend Sophia. Lucy is less than thrilled to be paired with Sophia—things are awkward between them since they drifted apart a year earlier. Maya is cool and fashionable, and Lucy is intimidated by her. And then there’s Erin, the new girl who seems quiet and maybe a little sad. 

All of the girls have their own reasons for joining the coding club, and they all end up helping Lucy in her quest to solve the mysteries of the strange clue-filled envelopes that Lucy receives. These books are cute middle grade reads. They’re written relatively simplistically, so some advanced middle-grade readers might think they feel too “young” for them, but my 13-year-old actually likes to read some books that are a little simpler and lighter now and again, so this book was perfect for her. She’s eager to read the second book (she didn’t have time to get to it before this review went up).  Both she and I figured out early on who was sending the notes to Lucy, but it was still fun to see where they would lead and how each note related to something having to do with coding (even though they didn’t seem to at first). I felt like the book was a great introduction to some coding concepts, but it didn’t feel too technical. My daughter isn’t all that interested in coding, unfortunately, but she really enjoyed this book anyway, and maybe it will spark a new interest in her!


Team BFF: Race to the Finish by Stacia Deutsch & other Girls Who Code BooksTeam BFF: Race to the Finish! by Stacia Deutsch
Series: Girls Who Code #2
Published by Penguin Workshop on October 31st 2017
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Pages: 144
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: Middle Grade
My rating:
4 Stars

Sophia and her coding club BFFs have the best time together. Sure, they work on coding projects, but mostly they gossip about crushes, eat cookies, and do totally silly impersonations. Now they're about to participate in their first hackathon--a full day of coding and meeting other coders--so it's time to step up their game!

Just when Sophia and her friends think their hackathon project is ready for the big time, a change of plans threatens to tear their group apart. Will they have each other's backs, or are they destined for an epic fail? They know that coding is all about teamwork and problem-solving--maybe friendship is, too!

add-to-goodreads 

My Take copy3

The second book in the series focuses on Sophia, the sports-minded ex-best friend from the first book. One of the things that I liked about the books is that they stressed the fact that all of the girls in the coding club have different talents and interests besides coding. Lucy is relatively focused on all things tech, but Sophie’s sporty, Maya loves fashion and Erin enjoys theatre. It shows that you don’t have to be all about computers to enjoy coding and opens kids’ eyes to the myriad of ways that computers can apply to other areas of interest. 

In this book, the coding group is all set to compete in a robotics competition, but Sophia runs into some issues with her family’s scheduling and instead of letting her friends know and trusting that they’ll have her back, she tries to fix the problems all on her own. Not surprisingly, that doesn’t work well. It’s not until she finally tells her friends what’s going on that they all work together to solve the problem.

Many middle school girls will probably relate to Sophia’s issues at home, where she feels a bit overlooked. Her family relies on her a lot to take care of her little sisters. I wasn’t a fan of Sophia’s parents—they really didn’t seem to care much about their daughter’s dreams or interests. I’m sure this has happened to almost all parents at one point or another—where you know something is important to your kid, but you just can’t make it happen scheduling-wise—but I thought that their attitude about it all was kind of cruel (I feel like I would have at least tried my very hardest to make things work out differently—it didn’t feel like Sophia’s parents tried very hard at all—her father even put up extra roadblocks at the very last minute). Still, I’m guessing the theme of feeling overlooked will resonate with a lot of kids.

This book has a little bit of a romantic subplot as well, which I’m sure a lot of middle school girls will enjoy. It was cute and I loved the way that it was all resolved. I don’t think this book tied in quite as much practical coding knowledge as the first book did, but we did get to see the girls in action at the robotics competition and see their problem-solving skills at work there.

Overall, this was a really fun read that I highly recommend to middle grade girls or even younger.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Team BFF: Race to the Finish by Stacia Deutsch & other Girls Who Code BooksCode It! Create It!: Ideas & Inspiration for Coding by Sarah Hutt
Published by Penguin Workshop on October 31st 2017
Genres: Middle Grade
Pages: 112
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: Middle Grade

Come up with the perfect coding-powered project in this informative, interactive journal published in partnership with the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code!

Think being creative has nothing to do with computer coding? Think again! Coding is all about creativity.

The video games you play, the photo-sharing apps you love, the animated movies you watch--they're all made with code. And the coolest part? YOU can make anything with code, too! The possibilities for coding projects are limitless, so use these pages to get inspired, jot down ideas, doodle, play coding games, and more. Let your imagination run wild--you just might come up with the most awesome coding project ever.

add-to-goodreads 

The publisher also sent me this cute journal book where girls can brainstorm ideas on creative things they might be able to use code for and play some simple games related to coding terms, etc. The book looks like a great way for girls who are excited about the ideas in the fiction books to come up with some of their own. It gives some great info on coding terms, programming languages and women programmers as well—these things are interspersed among the journaling pages (which all have fun and unique prompts!). I’m not giving this book a rating, but I wanted to highlight it. I’m hoping my daughter might be inspired to pick it up on a rainy day when she’s looking for something fun to occupy her!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Visit the Girls Who Code Website

About Stacia Deutsch

It All Began With An Idea

One day, when I was reading a book out loud to my kids, a thought flashed through my mind: Wouldn’t it be cool to have a novel about four third graders who time traveled and visited famous people in American history? I had never written a book before, and yet, knew I needed to write this one. My best friend, Rhody Cohon, came on board to help make the dream come true. From there, BLAST TO THE PAST was born.  Eight BLAST books later, new projects continued to come my way, each one more fun and exciting than the next.  Now, after ten years and 10,000 hours of writing, I look back over what I have accomplished and can only say one thing: Wow!

I have been very lucky.  I’ve been surrounded by great people, made great friends, and have made a career out of writing. I have more than 100 books and the list keeps growing. Very lucky indeed.

I look forward to the future, pushing the boundaries of what I write, facing new challenges, and most of all connecting with young readers everywhere!

Oh, and yes, the rumors are true: I am an ordained reform rabbi, too.

Author Links:
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12 Responses to “Team BFF: Race to the Finish by Stacia Deutsch & other Girls Who Code Books”

  1. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    This sounds like a cute series which can both demonstrate to girls that coding isn’t just for geeks, that it is useful to know and anyone can be interested in that and other stuff too. It’s a really cool idea, especially the journal as well to fuel the interest.

  2. Olivia Roach

    I love when there are cute middle grade series like this which also tap into themes which need to see represented more. I love the sound of coding club for girls! And it sounds like the books also have really cute subplots which make the story entertaining as well as centering on coding and the friendships/reasons for the girls to be in the club. It’s a shame about parent portrayal – I always wonder why it is so hard for novels to get it right?

  3. Jen

    Oh I LOVE the ideas behind the book! I’m going to pass along the title to my cousins that have girl daughters, thank you! When I took a coding class in college I was one of two girls in the class of probably 30ish guys. So I’m all for recommending these books, too cute! Thanks!

    Jen recently posted: Monthly Wrap-Up – October

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