The Cool Code
224pp., graphic novel, $A22.99
When 12-year-old coding whiz Zoey goes from homeschooled by her software-programmer parents to real school where there are teachers and other students, in an attempt to fit in, she develops an app called the Cool Code with a cute pink llama avatar called C.C. that she hopes will tell her everything from what to say to what to wear based on pop culture algorithms she’s uploaded. But although C.C. may be cute, it’s also bossy and starts to give her ridiculous advice, such as running against her new friend Daniel in the school election, things get awkward. With a few upgrades and a bit of debugging from the coding club, the app actually works—Zoey gets really popular . . . and gets her pulled in all kinds of directions, including away from her real friends.
Even though the new school year is some months away, nevertheless enrolments are open and for many students about to make the transition from primary to high school. the anxiety is starting to grow as they grapple with the changes involved, particularly the aspect of meeting and making new friends at a time in their lives when social acceptance and peer pressure is starting to dominate relationships. So while this is a path well-trod in many stories by numerous authors, nevertheless each one has a place to help reassure those about to embark on a similar journey. It’s graphic novel format means it is one to be read individually, but that same format could be the hook that gets the reluctant reader in.
One to add to a display on the theme, including the CBCA shortlisted August and Jones, that might allay the fears of some and also spark conversations about what is concerning them most and how to prepare to overcome that. At the very least, it will demonstrate that their worries are common and shared, and that, in itself, can help.