Lucy Lopez, Coding Star
Junior Library Guild Selection
How I Came to Write This Book
When I was pondering which camp to feature in the third book in the After-School Superstar series, the editorial team at Holiday House suggested coding camp. Great idea! Except…. I am not a computer person myself at ALL. But I attended coding classes and camps at nearby schools, read as many books about coding as I could, and finally hired an eleven-year-old coding coach/tutor to sit by me as I figured out the activities Lucy and her friends would do in the camp. This book focuses on Lucy’s relationship with her older sister, who is resentful that Lucy is “copying” her by signing up for the same coding camp she did earlier. I am an older sister myself. One of my earliest books, published decades ago, was The One and Only Cynthia Jane Thornton, where an older sister, Cynthia, struggles to maintain a distinct identity as her younger sister, Lucy, follows constantly in her footsteps. When my sister read the book, she said (jokingly, I think) that she should write a book of her own called Cynthia and Lucy: The Real Story – At Last It Can Be Told!, where Lucy would get to tell HER side of the events of our childhood. So I gave the name of Lucy to the younger-sister character in this newest book. I hope the book shows young readers that the world is a big enough place for lots of people to love lots of different things – and for lots of people to love the same thing, too.Published: 2020
Everyone in third grader Lucy Lopez’s family has a “special thing”: Her mom practices salsa dancing, her dad loves gardening, and her older sister, Elena, is obsessed with computer coding. Lucy’s not sure what her “thing” is yet, but the sisters have a club in which they try their hands at different skills to earn self-awarded merit badges, and Lucy can’t wait to find out what her “thing” will turn out to be! Lately, however, it seems as though all Elena wants to do is sit in front of a computer and work on her coding projects. Looking to connect, Lucy enrolls in an after-school coding camp with kids readers will recognize from other installments in the After-School Superstars series. Lucy is introduced to basic computer coding terms and concepts like algorithms, loops, and conditional statements. She is surprised when, instead of being excited about another activity to do together, Elena is mad that her little sister is copying her newfound hobby. Lucy is torn between excitement about her knack for coding and her sister’s irritation.
Can Lucy code a game for the end-of-camp Coding Expo that will change her sister’s feelings about having two coders in the family? Chapter-book readers will enjoy watching Lucy navigate the exciting world of computer coding and the complexities of having an older sister. Illustrations depict characters of color, and Lucy and her family are coded Latinx, though ethnicities are not specifically named in the text. Explore sister dynamics in this gentle read.
The latest series entry . . . stars third-grader Lucy, who joins the afterschool coding club hoping it will help her reconnect with her older sister, Elena. Lately Elena seems more interested in coding than doing the activities they used to enjoy together, but Elena finds Lucy’s new interest in coding a threat to her individuality. “‘I just can’t see computers being your thing,’ Elena said, ‘the way they’re my thing.’” The situation grows more complex when Lucy finds she really enjoys—and excels at—coding and must choose between pursuing this new interest or sacrificing it for her sister. As she interacts with her new club-mates (returning characters from previous books), she gains the courage to embrace what she enjoys, despite the awkwardness with her family. The story taps into the clarity and logic of computer programming as a tool to solve communication problems between humans. This title approaches a common sibling frustration, refreshingly from the less-represented viewpoint of the younger child. Spot art breaks up the text and expands the humor, and back matter provides resources to help those interested in coding find a place to start.
- Horn Book
Lucy Lopez is a third grader whose older sister, Elena, has been spending a lot of time coding with her friends. To try to get more time with Elena herself, Lucy creates the Let’s Have Fun Club, so they can work together and earn badges that they create. At first it works great and both girls have fun, but Elena becomes annoyed anytime Lucy turns out to be good at the same things she is. Lucy doesn’t understand why sharing interests or talents is a problem, so she joins the after-school coding club. Unfortunately, Elena does not like this, especially when Lucy discovers she is as good as, if not better than, Elena at coding. Not to worry, the sisters eventually turn their rift into a bonding opportunity. This illustrated early-chapter book takes on sibling rivalry and STEM themes in a way that will resonate with many readers and encourage them to try new things.