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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Lauren Ipsum

Title: Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things
Genre: Children’s

Illustrator: Miran Lipovaca
Published: December 14, 2014
Format: Paperback
Publisher: No Starch Press
ISBN: 978-1-59327-574-7

The Story

From the back of the book:

Lauren Ipsum is a whimsical journey through a land where logic and computer science come to life.

Meet Lauren, an adventurer lost in Userland who needs to find her way home by solving a series of puzzles. As she visits places like the Push & Pop Cafe and makes friends with people like Hugh Rustic and the Wandering Salesman, Lauren learns about computer science without even realizing it – and so do you!

Read Lauren Ipsum yourself or with someone little than you, then flip to the notes at the back of the book to learn more about logic and computer science in the real world.

The Response

Lauren IpsumThis is definitely a great book to take a look at if you know a child who may want to get into computer science. Or web development. Or programming. Heck, even web design. One thing all of these fields have in common is their dependence on problem solving, and this book (while telling a highly entertaining story) teaches how to solve problems.

It showcases that not every solution works for every situation, that the first solution you come up with is not necessarily the best one, how you should ask yourself “Why” five times to determine the real problem that you’re trying to solve, to name just a few things. Which, if you’re not into this sort of stuff, may not sound that interesting. But, it’s done in such a way that you don’t really realize that you’re learning some of the foundations of computer science. It’s written in an easy to understand, and a FUN way.

Written by Carlos Bueno, Lauren Ipsum tells the story of a young girl who gets lost in Userland. She has to learn how to solve her own problem of finding her way home, and while she has a lot of help from other residents of Userland, they don’t always have solutions that are very helpful to Lauren on her journey.

While this is a great book for children, it also does have amusing moments geared towards adults in the industry as well – like the dog-mouse animals known as Jargons, that are born whenever someone uses a word too often that doesn’t have real meaning. Or like the messages that Lauren receives that are sent in code were actually written in lorem ipsum.

I will admit that I loved the fact that the main character in this book was female. The tech industry is unbalanced when it comes to genders in the workplace. While I realize that some boys may feel that they can’t relate to the main character in this book as well as if it had been a boy, I hope that the fact that the main character is female gets it into a few more girls hands and that it just might help some girl to discover that she would enjoy working in the tech industry.

I requested a copy of this book from the publisher, because, quite frankly it sounded like a riot. And it was. Bueno worked as a Facebook performance engineer, so he definitely knows compsci. You couldn’t have picked a better person to have written a book that teaches how to solve problems. If, however, you expect to find a book that uses computers to teach about computer science, then you’re probably looking at the wrong book.

The Bottom Line

Loved this. I would highly recommend it for any child who is considering working in computer science, programming, web development, or well, any field that may require problem solving.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:11 am January 5, 2015.
Category: Children's
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