Cool Coding: filled with fantastic facts for kids of all ages by Robert Hansen

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Cool Coding: filled with fantastic facts for kids of all ages by Robert Hansen

Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: James Donald
Reviewed by James Donald
Summary: An interesting attempt to make coding accessible to all that falls flat of what it is trying to achieve. An interesting read that prompted me to play around in Scratch again but didn't make me feel confident enough to consider attempting true coding.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 112 Date: June 2017
Publisher: Pavilion Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1843653233

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An introduction to coding aimed at ages 10 and upwards. This book is filled with enthusiasm, information, fun and… unfortunately it just falls flat of its goals.

I feel that perhaps I am not the right person to review this book. First of all I'm not in the age bracket it is aimed at. Secondly I am reasonably proficient at ICT and I can block code (although full coding has always been a little beyond me). Thirdly I grew up reading the Usbourne fun text books. To counter the first I roped in my youngest child to take a fresh pair of eyes on the book. The second meant that whilst whole junks of the book were not news to me the bulk of it should have educated me.

It was the third point that was an issue.

The Usbourne books were (but unfortunately aren't any more) insanely good. They mixed the irreverence of Horrible Histories/Science with solid information. The science books alone meant that my GCSEs had nothing to teach me. The computing books are my point of comparison here and compared to them this does not do well. The books I read when I was the age of my youngest explained through cartoons how computers worked, what the jargon was and then gave me BASIC programmes of increasing complexity to try out whilst explaining what each part of the programme did. It was fun. It was simple. Things got gradually more complicated and I understood what I was doing and could see the impact of it.

Cool Coding wants to be like that but it isn't.

I did learn things. I really should have known about different levels of code. I should have known about floating point variables. I also got some clarification on certain parts of code. What was really clear too was the love and enthusiasm that Hansen has for coding. He adores it and I was swept up in this enthusiasm but then… I fell away from him.

Imagine sitting in a lecture and the teacher bursts in full of enthusiasm and, without pause, explodes with ideas and concepts and delivers them all at once. Every now and then this lecturer hints at practicals, exercises and demonstrations that would illustrate his point… but never does them. To begin with you are riding the wave of their love for the subject and frantically scribbling notes but by the time the middle comes along you are bored. You can't keep up, you can't try anything out, the contexts are gone and frankly you've had enough.

That is this book.

This book is a verbal eruption akin to the scripting often seen by those who have Aspergers. Reading this is like listening to my middle child (or myself on a bad day). It is fascinating for a while but it just likes the sound of its own voice too much and forgets that we aren't as knowledgeable as it is.

At two points we are invited to visit the Scratch website to try things out. I jumped on the chance to actually do something. The first was a simple countdown. For the second I made a little game. It wasn't what was asked for, I was bored so I just did it for fun.

This is all the book really needed; a few projects to try out. Something to do!

Bonus feature – My Youngest's review:

I tried. I really tried. I liked bits but the stuff on coding started okay but got stupid really quickly. I feel dumb because I was understanding it then suddenly couldn't. I like the look of it but I'm not going to read any more.

Further reading of this kind can be found with Get Coding!: Learn HTML, CSS & JavaScript & build a website, app & game by Young Rewired State.

Buy Cool Coding: filled with fantastic facts for kids of all ages by Robert Hansen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cool Coding: filled with fantastic facts for kids of all ages by Robert Hansen at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Cool Coding: filled with fantastic facts for kids of all ages by Robert Hansen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cool Coding: filled with fantastic facts for kids of all ages by Robert Hansen at Amazon.com.


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