In the Key of Code


Emmy fears she has not inherited her parents’ musical talents, despite tuition, opportunity and a music filled lifetime. Music leads her family to move from Wisconsin to San Francisco, where Emmy discovers ‘the desks are full of kids talking/ laughing and shouting/ in harmony.‘ Emmy feels out of step, from her clothing to her lunch. She is paralysed by fear. It leads to selecting coding as an elective, the least popular option for all students. Yet somehow, teacher Ms Delaney makes her subject sing for Emmy and her group. Emmy makes secret friends with Abigail from her home room. She is oppressed by Francis who ‘eye-rolls at everything‘, yet the pattern and melody of coding entice her.

What happens when Ms Delaney becomes ill? Can Emmy stand up for Abigail without risking their friendship? Will Emmy and her mother break their ‘fines’ shared at every day’s conclusion, as they hide the difficulty each faces in their new environment?

‘In the Key of Code‘ is a brave, curious, inclusive title. Bookwagon loves its verse prose composition, the opportunity exhibited with coding (including a glossary of terms and meanings) and the sincerity of its heroine. It’s time to sing about ‘In the Key of Code’. 


In the Key of Code

Aime Lucido

(Walker Books)

‘In the Key of Code’ might be the magic to help Emmy fit into her new school. She seems to set out each introduction perfectly with her  ‘Hi, I’m new here…‘ However it seems like she’s misstepping completely. Furthermore there are problems at home, as her mother seeks to make the adjustment from Wisconsin to California also. Emmy wonders ‘why would people here be different/ than anywhere else’? Yet they are. They eat differently and dress differently. She feels frumpy, unhealthy and cornered. What can a computer science elective hope to offer her? The only other girl from her homeroom attending is keen that her interest in coding is not known; Emmy is sworn to secrecy. Thereafter, their friendship, borne from a shared enjoyment of the class becomes secret. Is there anywhere in which Emmy might really ‘be herself’?
Emmy’s misstepping extends to her musicality, for she recognises that she does not possess anything like the same skill or enthusiasm as her parents. Can they recognise this and understand.
Ms Delaney of the coding class becomes a lifeline to Emmy. Yet, what happens when that lifeline becomes sick? Furthermore, what about the impact of a boy who is determined to undermine the class’s progress, and a friend who appears lukewarm? Where does the coding all fit in here?
‘In the Key of Code’ reminds me of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by 7s. However, this is a verse prose composition that includes coding and shape poetry. Emmy’s experience and discoveries captivate and immerse us.


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