Secrets & Sequences: Secret Coders, Book 3

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Secrets & Sequences: Secret Coders, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Clever puzzles and a new villain enliven this installment.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Encourages readers to learn how to code, providing simple exercises in programming. Shows that there are logical solutions to most problems.

Positive Messages

Kids of different races can work together to solve a shared problem. Learning a new skill can have many rewards.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hopper, Josh, and Eni make a good team. Eni is calm and logical. Josh is excitable but loyal. Hopper sometimes reacts before thinking, but she's resourceful and persistent.

Violence & Scariness

The Coders chase away some menacing rugby players. On the instructions of the Coders, a flock of birds attacks the villain.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Secrets & Sequences is the third volume in the series begun in Secret Coders and does not stand on its own. Gene Yang (Boxers & Saints, American Born Chinese) has written a fantasy graphic novel that teaches coding skills to elementary and middle schoolers. In this installment, the main character, 12-year-old Hopper, and her fellow coders, Josh and Eni, meet a new menace who threatens their school. The Secret Coders get into one physical fight with some menacing rugby players, but no one's seriously hurt. This is a fine choice for families looking for books with diverse characters, as Hopper's mother is Asian-American and Hopper's new best friend, Eni, appears to be African-American.

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What's the story?

At the opening of SECRETS & SEQUENCES, the Coders rescue Professor Bee from the clutches of the rugby team, only to learn of a greater menace: green-skinned villain Dr. One-Zero. Betrayed by Principal Dean, the kids are taken to One-Zero's castle and must use their programming skills to devise a means of escape. Throughout the adventure, Hopper collects clues about her missing father, who was somehow connected to One-Zero in the past.

Is it any good?

Adding a new, scarier villain ups the ante in this clever mix of comic book adventures and programming. In Secrets & Sequences, the Coders' adventures sometimes seem a bit convoluted and silly, but writer Yang and illustrator Holmes mostly strike the right balance between teaching programming and spinning an engaging yarn.

The personalities of the Coders are coming more into focus, and their ongoing story remains exciting and mysterious. Fans of computers and comics will eagerly await the next installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how learning computer coding looks in Secrets & Sequences. How is it useful for what the kids want to do?

  • Which subjects are well suited to the medium of comics? Which effects can a graphic novel produce that are more difficult in straight text alone?

  • Hopper learns new information that makes her see her absent father in a different light. How do some kids handle a situation in which one parent is missing for some reason?

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