Review Blog

Mar 09 2020

In the key of code by Aimee Lucido

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Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406389333. 416pp.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. There is nothing ordinary about this wonderful prose poetry book, it is an enjoyable and original narrative, written in poetic style, about a young girl who is trying to find her place in the world. Emmy has moved with her parents to California from Wisconsin. Her father is pursuing his dream as a pianist with San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, her mother is an opera singer (currently working in a not-so-perfect job to support the family) and Emmy knows that she will never be a performer; fear has overtaken her in the past. Starting at her new school reminds her that she does not fit and is not like others around her, and although she is 'fine', it is very difficult being a solo student. By accident and providentially she ends up in the Computer coding elective and eventually discovers a friend in the musically gifted, Abigail. In this class with the amazing Ms Delaney she discovers the language of Java and the poetry of code and joy of performing on the computer keyboard. Abigail and Emmy are both attempting to find where they fit; music and code floats around them as they grapple with friendship and their future directions. Ms Delaney leads them with directions in Java that provide joy, but she has her own struggles to contend with. The joy of new friends, new pathways and the wonders of code make this a novel and poetic journey that is worthy of investigation.
Aimee Lucido acknowledges Kwame Alexander as editor in her post-word at the end of the book, and it is evident that the prose-poetry narrative writing fraternity has another writer of quality. The weaving of code language through this book is deftly managed - there is an inherent poetry in the alternate language, and it is beautiful and musical as it threads through the storyline. I hope young readers see the wonderful and unique style features of this story, as well as being drawn into the development of Emmy and Abigail as they find their place and develop their talents with independence and flair. They too become performers worthy of applause. At the conclusion of the book there are clear explanations of the Java coding terms and musical terms in use throughout the book. Teacher's notes are available.
Highly recommended for lovers of coding and readers aged 12+. Themes: Friendship; Fitting in; Identity; Music; Coding.
Carolyn Hull

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