Review: Secret Coders: Secrets & Sequences

Hopper never dreamed there was a connection between the Bee School and her missing father –  but it turns out that Albert Gracie was also a student of this mysterious coding school. His disappearance can only be the work of Dr. One-Zero. Once a star pupil of the Bee School, Dr. One-Zero is now a green-skinned villain on the hunt for “the most powerful turtle in the world.” And the coders may be the only ones who can stop him.

Secret Coders: Secrets & Sequences is the third volume of writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Mike Holmes all-ages series that not just entertains but also educates teaching readers how to code and even challenging them to do so. The graphic novel series is edutainment in every sense emphasizing the entertainment and packing in the education. Even as an adult I find myself learning with each volume as Yang slowly adds lessons and then asks the readers to apply those lessons while reading and on their own.

The series is one of the smartest and innovative out there marrying an entertaining story with actual lessons. And that entertaining story amps up a bit this volume which introduces us to what is basically a super villain, the first of the series. The introduction is an interesting one in that it takes the series from a grounded one dealing with bullies and mean teachers to a more fantastical adventure involving creepy castles and super lasers. It also fleshes out some of the world’s back story, especially adding to main character Hopper. It’s a solid pivot that matures the series a bit as the audience matures in ways. As they grow, the series can grow too. It’s a tactic we’ve seen successfully employed with the Harry Potter series for example and Yang I’m sure has that big picture growth in mind.

Mike Holmes’ art is fantastic as always. The art is clean, simple, and sparse use of color adds to the “programming” theme of it all in some weird way. The choice reminds me of old computer screens which used a minimal amount of tools to deliver a fun and entertaining experience. Here, we see that used well with Dr. One-Zero, the super villain whose green skin makes him stand out. That’s not a mistake, the guy really has green skin and other than a page where that’s not present, it’s a great touch that adds to the experience.

This series is one I recommend to everyone I can talk to. Perfect for kids and adults it’s a great way to learn computer coding and be entertained at the same time. With each volume and each lesson the series adds to itself expanding the fun and its lessons in a well planned out adventure. Yang, a teacher himself, has created the perfect marriage of graphic novel and education, not just teaching, but having the reader apply their knowledge throughout the reading, and most importantly delivering entertainment. You’ll forget you’re learning Secret Coders is so much fun.

Story: Gene Luen Yang Art: Mike Holmes
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

First Second provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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