Book review: The World of Minecraft, by Heather E. Schwartz

Schwartz, Heather E. The World of Minecraft. “World of Gaming series.” Lerner Publications, 2018. $30.65. ISBN 9781512483130. Ages 7-10. P7 Q7

Minecraft is popular, but where did it come from? Did you know that Markus “Notch” Persson created Minecraft in only a few days?  Four short chapters, “Mining and Crafting,” “A World of Choices,” “Mining for More,” and “Minecraft Moves Forward” explain the different ways the game is played, where the inventor came up with the idea for the game and much more. Photographs and orange boxes with text containing trivia information will keep the reader engaged. There is a table of contents along with a glossary, index, and book titles and websites about video games. The format of the book makes it easy for readers to quickly glean information. One can read straight through the book or pick and choose chapters that are interested in. In the Searchlight series, this book contains photographs of the animator, Minecraft merchandise, and the Minecraft video game. Minecraft players can build almost anything they can imagine, the options are endless. Upon reading the book, I was intrigued to check out Minecraft and see why it is so popular.

Verdict: I read the book to learn more about Minecraft so I can talk to my students about it. I discovered that there are many ways you can play the game. Children will enjoy the book, learning about the origins of the game, adding an extra element, making it more than just a video game.

March 2018 review by Tami Harris.

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Book review: Click’d, by Tamara Ireland Stone

Stone, Tamara Ireland. Click’d. Disney Hyperion, 2017. ISBN 978-148478497-6. $16.99. 288 pages.  Ages 8-12. Q8P8

A modern day junior high school student in a competition to make a smart phone application!

I really liked this book because the main character, Allie, is a female computer geek!    I also like that the application Allie is creating, with the help of an all-girls team, is a social application designed for people to meet other people they wouldn’t have met otherwise.  She does this by matching their likes/dislikes and personality quirks, thereby filling a social media niche that hasn’t been.  I thought the author realistically captured the capabilities of a 7th grader and had great detail around the process of developing an application.  You can tell she’s worked in the industry.  With that said, I wonder if some of the practices and terms used are understood by the target audience.  Probably??  I understood them, but I have a, admittedly archaic, degree in Information Technology.  I also appreciated Ms. Stone’s depiction of the every-day trials of middle school.

Verdict:  I love the message of Girls in Technology and the idea behind the application.  I do wonder if the vocabulary and programming process description will decrease the potential audience due to its technical and sometimes boring, arduous nature.

March 2018 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Kids Get Coding: Learn to Program, by Heather Lyons and Elizabeth Tweedale

Lyons, Heather and Tweedale, Elizabeth. Kids Get Coding: Learn to Program. (Get Kids Coding series) Lerner, 2017. $31.96. 24p. ISBN 9781512413601. Ages 7-12. P7 Q8

This book provides a perfect beginning for students interested in computer and programing. With simple examples, it is full of resources and websites for practice. “Think bubbles” for Data Duck shows his ideas about the passages, and a notebook paper picture asks the reader to think coding with the answers in the back of the book.  Simple illustrations teach flow charts and coordinates. The book includes a table of contents, Extension Activities, Words to Remember, Activity Answers, and index. The website at  www.lerneresource.com (Get Kids Coding series) provides a teacher guide with a student handout for cause and effect. The author suggests www.blueshiftcoding.com/kidsgetcoding, but some of the links to “play the game” don’t work and it uses English rather than American spellings. A free site for teaching coding, https://scratch.mit.edu , is a free site for anyone to learn how to code.

Verdict:  With the need for students to understand coding and computer programing, this is useful for libraries, schools, and classrooms.

March 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.