- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 5
- Series: Celia Science & Anna Art (Book 1)
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: I_AM Self-Publishing (August 9, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1911079174
- ISBN-13: 978-1911079170
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,058,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Computer Code Mystery (Celia Science & Anna Art) (Volume 1) Paperback – August 9, 2016
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About the Author
Justin Taylor is a writer, science enthusiast, amateur artist, husband, insatiable book reader, dancer, crepe maker, and father. He was born and raised near Cayce, Kentucky. He currently lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and writes books about how the Mason kids use science, art, and creativity to solve mysteries. When he was a kid, he loved the Encyclopedia Brown Series and still keeps a few stashed around his house for emergencies. -
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Personally, I want to say thanks to the author, Justin Taylor, for breaking down some barriers and creating all these awesome non-stereotypical ladies in the book. Like my daughter, I did not want to put it down before the end and I am not a technology buff! I highly recommend this book. You will enjoy it too!
It's just full of tech that just makes no sense. At the beginning of the story the kid connects a bunch of motherboards together with their cords and power packs. Power packs? Can we please use the correct term for them? Anyways, the kids manages to pull this off by taking some cans of beans, with beans still in them, having her mom drill in some holes.. but it's cool, she just wipes the beans off her drill. Then they take the bean cans, which I assume they've now cleaned out, and they attach hoses and place the cans on the processors to keep the motherboards cool. They use some electrical tape to repurpose wires so they can connect the motherboards together and stick it in a bookshelf. No explanations or drawings on what motherboards, processors or any of this looks like.. so hopefully your kid already understands tech well enough to visualize this and get that cpus being hot is part of tech. (In case you're not technical, this is not something anyone does in the tech world.. and having multiple motherboards makes no sense. I much would have preferred they talked about increasing the cpu speed, memory, or upgrading a motherboard to handle more cpu and memory. That's what makes a computer fast.. not the motherboard. Also, the idea of someone crafting together a coolant system on their own with no experience is a bit silly.. I'd much rather my kid overclock my cpu than try adding in more water.)
Then they start it up and load up her favorite online game and it's awesome because she's super fast in it and scores really high against everyone online. The game crashes, but instead of just assuming it's because of the impossible computer she's rigged together to play it with bean cans, or that she's been caught cheating she takes a short video of the crash and writes down what it says and then goes on to try and figure out if the crash contained some sort of message. Her mom came in after the crash too and tells her she got a computer virus, and that she had opened up the computer to hackers and the files on the computer were most likely destroyed. Which also makes no sense, because even if she had gotten a virus it would most likely only effect this rigged up computer.. when did she attach the family's hard drive? But she disagrees with her mom's much better explanation and goes on to try and solve the riddle.
Then it hops to another character, a random girl in her 20s. They try to explain that her character is smart by having her say a bunch of stuff to a professor, the main character's mom, that literally makes no sense about search algorithms. Personally I always hate it when kids books do this, because I think it just cements in the idea that tech is over their heads and something very complicated. Then they explain where the character is, which is like this weird lab with dolphins in the middle dressed up as mermaids and a huge window overlooking the ocean. For this we do get a drawing since I figure the dolphin tank might be a bit hard for some kids to imagine. At this point it just feels like some nickelodeon cartoon with a silly villain.. they even use the phrase evil plots multiple times when describing what she's up to. She also plays the same game the main character does, but loves to cheat.. she joins, finds the super fast character and kicks her out of the game so she can maintain her high score. Only problem is, she sent her all of her code on how she steals state taxes instead of a blank page. I find it odd that the author chose taxes because I can't think of anything a child would find more boring or less relatable.. it's not like this is anywhere near a feasible story at this point anyways.
After that they have a personal scene where the fbi agent asks the girl if she understands why they had to destroy the computer she built. She says that they didn't destroy it though, the person sending the viruses did and they were just smart enough to find them and take them apart. They also make sure to destroy all of the electronics in the house, including the tv. The problem with this of course, is that no virus on earth requires you to destroy the computer to get rid of it.. let alone other random electronics. If the FBI needed data off of a computer they would look at the hard drive. Sure, there is a place you can store stuff on the motherboard.. but you don't need to take apart or destroy a computer to look at it. I'm pretty sure there hasn't been one mention of hard drives or ram yet, or that that is where stuff is actually stored. This is probably unteaching kids at this point. Also, I thought these weren't viruses? She's literally spent the entire story so far trying to convince her mom it was something else.. why did the state tax code turn into a virus?
After this it dips real deep into some csi style stuff. They have a strange office setup, where they are zooming in on the house of the evil 20 year old who just logged back into the game. No explanation of how they found her house. But then they turn on a filter, and they can see all of her network traffic which looks strange since it's monetary transactions. Another technical thing that makes no sense, this would be encrypted and the fbi would be unable to see it.. plus, the explanation they give for how the fbi would look at it was just silly. They wouldn't use some filter on their camera to see network traffic, they would contact the isp and use some sort of command line tool to get more info on the data. Can't we try to attempt to teach kids anything about the real world in this book?
They then deploy several FBI teams with go bags that have two changes of clothing and $10,000 cash in three different currencies. Because that's what you need to invade a cliffside house in California, duh. They take the kids with them too, the girl joins them when they go to surround the 20 year old evil girls house. She glitter bombs them though, because she's already escaped to Mexico. The main character totally saw that coming too, because of how her character acted online. They arrest her in Cuba, the end. They never mention the state tax code again or bother to really wrap up the story.
And that's really not even the end of it. I'm pretty sure there was no editor on this book.. too many times the wrong word is being used like where instead of were, or just using completely the wrong tone and descriptions like this quote - "Her younger brother and sister, Anna and Silas, were already having a dance party in the living room, celebrating their freedom from the educational overlords." But this has nothing to do with the story and isn't addressed again, there are no "educational overlords" and not calling them teachers or whatever really takes away from the book. I'm also a bit surprised about the negativity around school in general in the book.. kids who like tech are generally nerds, and uh.. most of my friends and I loved school except for those of us that were bullied. How has she learned enough to do these experiments if she hates school? It makes no sense with her character. The book was pretty clearly written by someone who has no real experience with tech or programming though, so perhaps it's what made the most sense to him.