Secret Coders

by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

Moving to a new school is always tough, especially when it looks like it might be haunted. The first day starts out badly for twelve-year-old Hopper, as she encounters a creepy janitor and a bunch of bullies. Eventually, along with her new friend Eni, Hopper gets wrapped up in the mystery of the school, which involves four-eyed birds and a leaf-blowing robot turtle. This graphic novel from the “Secret Coders” series is an engaging story and, using relatable examples, is a great introduction to binary code. Students who are intimidated by computers and coding will not have trouble digging into this story. Several times throughout the book, the reader is even invited to actively work on cracking the codes. Each of these challenges teaches a useful lesson. Even the chapter numbers are in binary code, using the birds’ eyes! There are also personal mysteries in Hopper’s life to solve, such as her family’s issues involving her father. The artwork is expressive and comical. There is plenty of humor overall, and the story is entertaining enough that readers will not realize they are also learning at the same time. There is potential for wide audience appeal to both boys and girls, and the ending will leave the reader wanting more.

Reviewer: Lisa Czirr