Size Doesn’t Matter (187): The Friendship Code; One Mixed-Up Night

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (187): The Friendship Code; One Mixed-Up NightThe Friendship Code by Stacia Deutsch
Narrator: Sisi A. Johnson, Reshma Saujani
Length: 3 hours
Series: Girls Who Code #1
Published by Listening Library on August 22, 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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two-stars

Perfect for fans of The Babysitters Club and anyone interested in computer science, this series is published in partnership with the organization Girls Who Code!

Loops, variables, input/output - Lucy can't wait to get started with the new coding club at school. Finally, an after school activity that she's really interested in. But Lucy's excitement turns to disappointment when she's put into a work group with girls she barely knows. All she wanted to do was make an app that she believes will help someone very special to her.

Suddenly, Lucy begins to get cryptic coding messages and needs some help translating them. She soon discovers that coding - and friendship - takes time, dedication, and some laughs!

I feel like I start about half my audiobook reviews with “I picked this up on a whim even though it’s not really my thing,” and I guess I’m going to keep doing that, because I picked The Friendship Code up on a whim even thought it’s not really my thing. It’s okay for the intended audience and its intended goal, but it’s less a novel than an educational tool. You know how there are novels that teach SAT words? This is kind of like that, only with coding.

The story’s rather silly, and the resolution of the plot is incredibly obvious from the beginning, though the girls don’t figure it out. This might not be the case for younger readers who haven’t read as much. Narratively, though, this story wasn’t particularly impressive, and there’s no reason middle grade can’t be impressive. However, it does teach the most basic elements of coding and some principles that apply to it. So, considering that this is the goal of the book, rather than a good novel, I’d say it’s probably fairly successful within those parameters.

I will note, however, that, though I liked the narration itself, this book does not lend itself well to the audiobook format. Emojis lose something in translation, as do strings of code, which are painful to hear read out over and over again.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (187): The Friendship Code; One Mixed-Up NightOne Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman
Narrator: Monika Felice Smith
Length: 3 hrs, 46 mins
Published by Listening Library on September 5, 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
three-stars

Two best friends on the run... to IKEA.

Frankie and Walter aren't really running away. Just like the kids in their favorite book, they are running to somewhere. Specifically, a massive furniture store. They've been obsessed with the Ikea catalog for years. So they make a plan, pack their backpacks, give their parents the sleepover switcheroo . . . and they're in.

One night all on their own, with no grown-ups or little brothers.

One night of couch jumping, pillow forts, and unlimited soda refills.

One night of surprises and twinkle lights and secrets they have been keeping--and waiting to share.

One unforgettable night in Ikea.

A tribute to the beloved classic From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! Only, instead of running away to the Metropolitan Museum, these kids are running away to somewhere a little more modern...

Audiobooks are seriously upping my middle grade reading. I’m still not a major middle grade fan, but at least I’m a bit more well-read in that area, in case I ever get the chance to make recommendations to kids in bookstores (I have done this). One Mixed-Up Night is a surprisingly impactful modern take on From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

For much of the book, I couldn’t help wondering if Newman was getting kickback money from IKEA for this. There’s so much product placement. It’s ridiculous. Like, IKEA seems like a pretty cool and likely place for children to maybe want to spend a night, but I didn’t expect for Walter and Frankie to be so in love with IKEA. They read the catalogs regularly for fun, and Walter requests that they go for his birthday. It’s weird to me how much they dream of assemble-it-yourself furniture, but whatever.

Set loose in IKEA, the kids engage in the sort of hijinks that make Christina very anxious. Like, at one point, they make a zip line, which is massively dangerous, and I also question if some of the stuff they did was even physically possible. I haven’t been in an IKEA recently enough to picture some of this stuff. I also seriously doubt the guard would just let them carry on for as long as she did (though it’s cool that the guard is casually in an f/f relationship later). It’s cute how bored they get with the idea pretty quickly and distressing how much damage they do. It’s also funny how they’re upset at the thought of stealing food, but physical damage doesn’t occur to them as a bad thing; there’s something particularly childish about the valuations that really makes the voice work.

What impressed me, however, was the emotional punch that comes in later on. Walter’s father died of cancer, and he hasn’t really been the same since. Once they start getting bored of IKEA, he finally starts to open up to Frankie about how he’s been feeling, and it’s very touching and well done. I didn’t really see this sort of beautiful emotional arc coming from something that had been primarily product placement and silliness, but it really made the novel work.

Younger readers will enjoy the idea of having adventures in IKEA. Parents may loathe the way their children demand to go to IKEA and try to sneak off for an overnight.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

2 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (187): The Friendship Code; One Mixed-Up Night”

  1. Disappointing. I’ve been kind of interested in the Girls Who Code series because it sounds interesting, but I’m not sure about the overall focus on coding at the expense of story. I would think the value of a novel rather than a nonfiction book about coding would be having an engaging story to draw people in.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I would think that too. My only hope is that it’s a bit more enthralling for the intended age group, but it felt dull and simple to me. It’s a great idea, and I’d probably still recommend it to young girls, though I think I’d be more likely to push the non-fic rather than the novelization.

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