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How to Code a Sandcastle
(How to Code with Pearl and Pascal #1)
Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Sara Palacios
Foreword by Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code
Published May 15th, 2018 by Viking

Summary: From the computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code comes this lively and funny story introducing kids to computer coding concepts.

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!

Kellee’s Review:  Through books like the Secret Coders series, Two Naomis, and now How to Code a Sandcastle, I’ve slowly begun to learn more and more about coding, and I find it fascinating! If I was a kid now, I would be so excited to have books like these to introduce me to coding. How to Code a Sandcastle is special because it takes coding, which is a tool that is primarily not taught until middle school or later, and makes it accessible to younger kids helping them build their coding vocabulary and knowledge at a young age. My son at age 4 now knows a basic idea of what coding is which is such a great foundation! Bravo Josh and Brava Sara for producing such an essential and gosh-darn funny book for kids.

Ricki’s Review: Josh Funk does it again and again and again. He creates highly engaging books that are so teachable! This is my first book in the Girls Who Code series, and it most certainly won’t be my last. It makes coding quite fun and offers an engaging introduction to children. I don’t know anything about coding, and I had fun learning the vocabulary with my son. After we read the book, we went through again and reviewed all of the new words that we learned about coding. The educational value of this book is very high—it is a great first dive into STEM, it could be used to teach step-by-step instructional writing, and it’s an incredible and hilarious read-aloud! Thanks for this wonderful new text for our classrooms, Josh!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Like we shared above, How to Code a Sancastle is a wonderful foundation for learning about coding and would be an awesome read aloud in an elementary classroom as students are first being introduced to coding maybe on the “Day of Code” or before a computer course. It has a lot of introductory vocabulary and ideas that won’t overwhelm young children but will instead make them curious. Alternatively, it is also a great example of step-by-step instructional writing mixed with a hilarious narrative, so it would be a great mentor text for these writings.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why did Pearl feel she needed to bring Pascal to build a sandcastle?
  • How did Pearl fix mistakes when she made them when coding Pascal?
  • What cause and effect relationships do you see in the story?
  • What problem and solution relationships do you see in the story?
  • How did the author include step-by-step instructions within the narrative while also keeping the story going?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Secret Coders series by Gene Luen Yang, Girls Who Code books, The coding references in Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Twenty Yawns by Jane SmileyOn Gull Beach by Jane Yolen

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