Book review: Wings of Fire: Book One – The Dragonet Prophecy, by Tui T. Sutherland, art by Mike Holmes, adapted by Barry Deutsch

Sutherland, Tui T. Wings of Fire: Book One – The Dragonet Prophecy. Art by Mike Holmes. Adapt. By Barry Deutsch. Graphix, 2018. $12.99. 214p. ISBN 978-0-545-94215-7. Ages 9-12. P9Q8

The author of the ten-volume series, Wings of Fire, is adapting his novels into graphic novels beginning with the introduction of five dragonets, hidden beneath a mountain, who are destined to fulfil a mysterious prophecy to end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. Each one has a very different skill and personality that helps them in their struggle against evil, beginning with the wicked Queen Scarlet, determined to destroy them and everyone else.

Verdict: Blood and violence in bright colors will appeal to reader searching for excitement and adventure, and the format will find a new audience. Dragon lovers will delight in the characters and the images of this kingdom.

April/May 2018 review by Nel Ward.

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Book review: Secrets & Sequences, by Gene Luen Yang, Mike Holmes

Yang, Gene Luen. Secrets & Sequences. Illus. by Mike Holmes. (Secret Coders series, book 3) First Second/Roaring Brook, 2017. $18.99. 103p. ISBN 978-1-62672-618-5. Ages 8-13. P6Q8

In the third book of the Secret Coders series, Eni, Hopper, and Josh, students at Stately Academy, are learning coding secrets from ancient-seeming Professor Bee. The adventure—and coding—come when evil Principal Dean holds Hopper’s mother hostage, forcing the students into danger by flying the turtle into the castle of villain Professor One-Zero, once a classmate of Hopper’s father and Professor Bee.

Verdict: The coding principles of parameters and Ifelse (if else) statements are carefully delineated, and the adventure is fun for students not interested in that topic. The humor and excitement make this book a fun read. Recommended for collections with the first two books in the series, Secret Coders and Paths and Portals. 

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Secret Coders: Paths & Portals, by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

Yang, Gene Luen and Mike Holmes. Secret Coders: Paths & Portals. (Secret Coders series, #2) First Second/Roaring Brook, 2016. $18.99. 94p. ISBN 978-1-62672-340-5. Ages 8-11. P5Q9

yang-paths-and-portalsIn the second book of the series (Secret Coders), the language becomes technical in the secret underworld of Stately Academy, originally the Bee School where teachers, students, and robots tried to solve coding mysteries. Paths & Portals concentrate more on programming with Logo and less on the plot as Mr. Bee trains Hopper, Eni, and Josh in opposition to the rugby team, employed by the evil principal to find a robot turtle. Simple black and white illustrations highlighted by green follow the hexagons. The third book in the series, Secrets and Sequences, is due out in March, 2017.

Verdict: The title is a good addition for young people interested in coding, but more hardcore graphic novel lovers may give it a pass.

January 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Secret Coders, Book One, by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Mike Holmes

Yang, Gene Luen. Secret Coders, Book One. Illus. Mike Holmes. First Second, 2015. $9.99. 96p. 9781626720756. Ages 9-12. P8Q8

Yang Secret CodersAward-winner Yang knows how to appeal to his audience, in this case, featuring a girl who hates her new school, alienates her teachers, and makes no friends. That is until she spots a third eyeball on a bird and connects with classmate Eni who tells her that the birds are robots that respond to binary numbers. Together the two mismatched youth solve the mystery of the grumpy janitor and find a hidden passage at the school. Black, white, and green black cartoons explain basic programming cues in such a way that readers new to programming can understand. The ending promises sequels.

April 2016 review by Nel Ward.