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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Cover Reveal: How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk, ill. Sara Palacios

We’re taking a lovely, leisurely stroll in the park when you turn to me and say, “Betsy, why don’t you write more about coding on your blog?” And I shuffle my feet a bit, maybe kicking a stray acorn. I avoid eye contact with you as I mumble something indistinct about it being scary and confusing and sort of like math but not like math (or is it math?). And you’re quiet listening to me ramble on but I can feel you getting impatient, and with good reason. We’re looking at a world in which women are desperately needed on the computer sciences front. Personal attitudes towards coding be damned!

Here’s a true story. When I lived in New York I had a cousin that I would see on occasion. His wife was a true get-kids-coding pioneer. She’d tell me about the dearth if good coding books for kids and I, not quite understanding, would nod and agree. But soon enough (as I tried to buy coding kid books for my library system) I saw the problem. And like any good subject area, it’s important to get the kids on board early. How early? Picture book early, my friend. Only, the problem is that I can count on one hand the number of coding picture books I’ve seen. And the quality of the ones I’ve seen? So-so to nuh-uh.

Then in walk Josh Funk and Sara Palacios. They cracked it, folks. They figured out a method by which one could write such a picture book. Meet How to Code a Sandcastle. Or, as the description puts it:

Pearl and her trusty rust-proof robot, Pascal, need to build a sandcastle before summer vacation is over, and they’re going to do it using code. Pearl breaks the big we-need-a-sandcastle problem into smaller steps, then uses conditionals, loops, and other basic coding concepts to tell Pascal exactly what to do. But building a sandcastle isn’t as easy as it sounds when surfboards, mischievous dogs, and coding mishaps get in the way! Just when it looks like the sandcastle might never work, Pearl uses her coding skills to save the day and create something even better: a gorgeous sandcastle kingdom!

In a way, I’m reminded of The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. I have this bottomless pit of admiration for picture books that strive to go beyond the clichéd girls-can-do-anything messaging to offer real and practical advice. Plus. I like the cover. Wanna see it?



On shelves June 5, 2018.

Thanks to Josh, Sara, and the folks at Viking for the cover reveal.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Tina Hoggatt says:

    Just a mention of Gene Yang’s Secret Coders books for chapter book readers. So good.


  1. […] Journal, Fuse 8 – AKA Betsy Bird (author, editor, podcaster, librarian extraordinaire) revealed the cover of How to Code a Sandcastle, illustrated by Sara […]