Book Review: “How to Code a Sandcastle”

With the goal of closing the gender gap in technology related fields, in 2012, Reshma Saujani founded Girls Who Code. Over the last 6 years it has reached almost 90,000 girls of varying ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds nationwide.

Beginning in late 2017, Penguin Young Readers teamed up with Girls Who Code to create a publishing imprint. The goal of this imprint is to advance women in technology through publishing stories that act as mirrors, allowing readers to see their reflection in the characters they read about. The co-created Girls Who Code imprint puts forth role models of great character that are sure to get readers interested in coding.

The latest picture book from the Girls Who Code imprint is Josh Funk’s “How to Code a Sandcastle“. In this story, Pearl is enjoying the last few sun-soaked summer hours on the beach. She is determined to build a sandcastle, and this time, not even Ada Puglace’s bad mannered pug will ruin it. After a summer vacation’s worth of trial and error, Pearl has a plan! Along with her robot pal, Pascal, Pearl is planning build the perfect sandcastle, using code.

Programmed with a diverse set of characters, summer hijinks, and plenty of tech lingo, “How to Code a Sandcastle” is sure to be a hit!

We are used to laughing our way through Funk’s energetic, witty, wordplay, but “How to Code a Sandcastle” has a different code for success. You’ll find no rhymes or food puns in this book. Instead, Funk and illustrator Sara Palacios work together to explain fundamental coding skills such as sequences, loops, and if-then-else instructions. Palacios creates a warm summer setting, making readers long for a beach day. She playfully uses ordinary beach objects to bring coding jargon to life. These illustrations simplify functions of coding and make them more concrete for readers.

From my own personal experience, this book has been a hit with my students. This year we have explored the world of coding by using Raspberry Pi computers, Ozobots, and programs such as Scratch. This book was a great companion read for my beginner coders. I would recommend this book to any teacher who teaches coding, or any student interested in computer sciences.


Title: How to Code a Sandcastle
Written by: Josh Funk
Illustrated by: Sara Palacios
Published by: Penguin Young Readers
On Sale: May 15th, 2018