Emmy in the Key of Code

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
Emmy in the Key of Code Book Poster Image
Coding, music, and friendship in inspiring free-verse novel.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The story is filled with terms that may unfamiliar to many reader, such as primitive types, booleans, methods, white loops. But because the story presents them in the context of how Emmy is learning to code and the delight she takes in learning JavaScript, it's never intimidating for readers. There are two Glossaries at the back of the book, one for Coding Terms and another for Music Terms.

Positive Messages

Never be afraid to try something new. You may not only enjoy it, but you could also be really good at it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Emmy and Abigail are looking for a right path for themselves. For Emmy, who didn't inherit her parent's musical talent, there's a search for a place she truly belongs. Because Abigail's a gifted singer, she's feeling pressured to choose music over her love of computers and robots. Computer teacher Ms. Delaney (who had a big job in tech) encourages the girls and serves as a great role model for what the future could hold for them.


There's always music being played or listened to in Emmy's home and she's often humming a song or piece of music, so the novel is filled to overflowing with musical references from Chopin, Mozart, and Beethoven to the BeatlesTaylor SwiftKaty Perry and Bruno Mars.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that in Aimee Lucido's Emmy in the Key of Code, 12-year-old Emmy has just moved with her parents from Wisconsin to San Francisco. Both her parents are musicians, but Emmy freely admits that she hasn't inherited any of their talent. Trying to find a way to fit in at her new school, she thinks about taking music as her elective class, but instead finds herself in Computer Programming. In that class, she makes a new best friend, Abigail, who's musically gifted but would rather work with robots and computers. Much to her surprise, Emmy loves coding -- and she's really good at it. But just when Emmy feels as if she's beginning to find her way, a secret is revealed and Emmy faces new challenges. Not just for girls in STEM, this story is relatable for any reader who's ever been the new kid in school and struggled to fit in. 



User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

The Emmy in EMMY IN THE KEY OF CODE, is a sixth-grader who's just moved from Wisconsin to San Francisco so her father can take a job as a pianist with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.  Like both her parents, Emmy loves music, but when it comes to anything musical, "I'm no good." Her first days at her new school are rocky, as other students make no effort at all to be welcoming and she finds herself eating lunch alone each day under the stairs. When she's asked to chose an elective class for the upcoming year, she leaves the choice up to the school and gets Introduction to Computer Programming. Not at all what Emmy had in mind. In computer class, she meets and becomes fast friends with Abigail, a gifted singer who loves robots and coding. Both girls find themselves inspired by their teacher, Ms. Delaney, who gave up a big job in tech to teach. As she becomes for confident in her abilities, Emmy discovers that coding is its own kind of music and that "for the first time I know there's music in me." As the fall semester progresses, Emmy and Abigail face some big challenges. 

Is it any good?

Inventive, lively and relatable, this is an empowering story for any girl who loves computers and coding, wants to try something new, or has ever been a new kid in school. The fact that Emmy in the Key of Code is written in both free verse and JavaScript may seem daunting to some readers, but Lucido's blending of the two is so inviting and effortless that it's never intimidating, even to readers who've never had experience with coding.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how girls who love coding are presented in Emmy in the Key of Code. What do students in your school think about girls who love computers, math, and science? What do you think would attract more girls to STEM classes?

  • Do you love something (like music or a sport) you're not really good at it? Like Emmy, have you taken a chance and tried something new? What did you discover about yourself?

  • Have you ever had a teacher like Ms. Delaney who really inspired you? What was the most important thing you learned from that person?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love STEM stories and middle school tales

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate