Sometimes something unexpected crosses your path and you realise it is so hugely important that you have to blog about it immediately. The New Girl Code is such a pleasant surprise… a book written specifically to encourage and inspire girls to get interested in code and coding. If you have a girl of the tween/teen variety then this new book on the block is an absolute must read. I am always trying to showcase local reads for kids and local reads that are going to empower girls and make computers and coding funky and fun and appealing… what more can I say. We need to get this book and put it into all our libraries. Get this book into the hands of girls world wide, and specifically South African girls, because they totally can do this.
Let’s Begin with the Story in the Book
This is the story of Tumi, a regular Cape Town gal, she is in grade eight… her mum is a scientist and her dad is a primary school teacher. She has an older brother Leo, who spends a lot of time playing video games. And the most stylish best friend in the world. As they head to a popular Cape Town Mall, to find clothes to wear after school, Tumi wishes she had her best friend’s style. No luck at the store and so Tumi’s friend comes over and helps her turn a few items in her closet into a series of wearable outfits, Tumi decides that she should create her own App for this… and with the help of a few of her friends, that quickly become best friends, they manage to create an App. They have very limited start up knowledge, and Tumi’s mom’s reaction was appallingly stereotypical, when she asks her to ask her brother to build the app, because he is very tech-savvy… he is after all a boy and on a screen 24/7. Tumi wanted nothing to do with that and with a feisty fearlessness she conquered the tech and with the help of her best friend, Google, she manages to find out what she needs to know. Tumi and her team of friends: who photograph clothes, and market themselves and brainstorm constantly, they manage to outshine and outsmart those around them and go on to achieve great entrepreneurial heights. The book is written for girls, it is very relational in a sweet way… the girls have crushes, they have squabbles, they have hassles, they overcome hurdles together and friendship wins the day.
Here are se7en, out of ALL the things to love, to really, really, really love about this book:
- Throughout the book Tumi’s confidence grows, from the list of #Twentyfactsaboutme on the first page, to a new list on the final page. From a girl who thinks she cant co-ordinate an outfit, she grows into a girl with an award winning App, and entrepreneurial skills and confidence that are off the charts.
- The book is set locally, this makes a difference, the book is so much more relatable to girls living in South Africa and specifically Cape Town. The book has been edited to include lot of South Africanisms… it has a lovely local feel and reads like you are chatting with a friend.
- Tumi’s friends and family come first… if her parents say they are going away for a week of hiking in the Drakensberg, with no internet, then so be it. Her friends aren’t happy about it, Tumi is the least happy about it… and yet she survives… this is not a story about a child that gets her own way, has unlimited screen time and doesn’t have to bother with school because she is good at what she does… quite the opposite in fact… hockey matches have to be played, grades count and family life is important.
- Tumi conquers problems with grace, she is not afraid to make mistakes, to say she doesn’t know how to do something, or even to ask for help. Tumi is gracious and sweet and if my gals could learn that making mistakes is actually okay, from someone like Tumi then its all good.
- The book’s presentation is fantastic, the diary/journal style is very engaging and the illustrations are fantastic. Honestly, the illustrations by Josselin Bijl, make the book.
- This book really explains the complete process of App creation well… right down to how to cope with plagiarism, how to deal with trolls, and navigate through online chats. Through out the book, in the text there are links to websites and tips to inspire young girls, how to create their own App and where to get started and which steps to follow.
- Tumi and her friends are fun and funky, they squabble like normal grade 8 kids, they have typical run-ins with their teachers, problems on the hockey field… and yet still on the whole they are good natured and hard working.
- This book tackles the problems that girls, that are interested in STEM careers, face head on. They have parents that don’t really believe in them at first, that go on to be hugely proud of them; they have a headmaster who is technologically way behind the times and a school director, that they have to win over to encourage the entire school to take part in the Hour of Code.
Behind the Book
This book was written, as an initiative by the Inspiring Fifty, which is world-wide non-profit organisation that is all about encouraging girls to get into the heart of technology, and thereby encouraging diversity in tech. We got to meet, Ellen Fischat from Inspiring Fifty, who was so inspiring to my girls… just a quick conversation with her and any ideas that they may not be able to fly to the moon in a craft they they have created themselves were blown away… reach for the stars girls. You won’t take the same route in a project as a guy might, and you may not have the loudest voice about a project… but your creativity and enthusiasm makes your project just as valid. The book began as an idea by the Global Tech Entrepreneur, Janneke Niessen, and was first written in Dutch by Niki Smit. It has been re-published strategically, in different languages and locations. Locally the book has been published by Imagnary House, it is a non-profit initiative and funds from the sales of the book will be used to increase and support diversity in STEM careers.
This book is written for a tween/teen read it has inspired my three very different girls in very different ways… Hood 3 (age 17) read it in a flash… saying I can’t believe I can do all this!!! Hood 6 (age 12) is a slow and steady reader and has been reading her way through it for days – it is over 300 pages long and packed with lovely illustrations. It is written in a very short, snappy and easy to read style. Snippets of diary entries and “whatsapp messages” between friends, Hood 6 loves the artiness of it all and has been asking all sorts of questions about coding and app creation, which she had never even thought about before.
Hood 7 (age 10) has read her way through the first half of the book and has paused her reading to invent her own crafty app… so inspired they are!!! While the over riding theme, of the book is very strongly girls can do technology, and definitely can Code, it is also about friendship, crushes and our heroine does end up kissing the “man of her dreams” in the last chapter… just saying, so you know its there.
Meet the Local Editor: Buhle Ngaba
So this book has an original version in Holland, and has been translated locally into French/Paris version, and we have our own delightfully South African Version, set in Cape Town… they get their coffee from Vida, they walk the streets of Cape Town looking for App outfit inspiration. The local editor/author was the delightful enthusiastic Buhle Ngaba, and my kids immediately loved her. We loved that she showed us some of her writing process and they rushed home and started to create their own “mood boards” and “mind maps” for the stories they are writing for NaNoWriMo this month.
This is a writer, whose profession is actually acting… she makes an enthusiastic face for technology, and as an ambassador to encourage young girls in all walks of life, particularly technology, she is fantastic. She is the kind of gal that will take the words “you can’t” and turn them into a challenge and really, she could quite possibly conquer the world, before anyone else has thought about getting into the race.
About the Launch
The Launch took place at Truth Coffee in the City, and who doesn’t enjoy a visit to the City. The presentation was spectacular, and the speakers incredible…
There was some great discussion about Women in Science, technology and engineering and basically getting enthusiastic about the fact that girls can do this. I think what impressed my daughters the most was that they were so eager to hear the opinions of young people… they listened enthusiastically to what my gals had to say.
As a scientist myself, and a founding member of SAWISE (South African Women in Science and Engineering) I completely endorse this book. I am literally from the dark ages of science, where I was the only one gal in my class, and quite the opposite of encouragement was going on – all the time. Times have changed, my girls can’t imagine a time when they wouldn’t be encouraged to do science. However, there is a vast difference to being encouraged to do something, and to thinking that you are able to do it. This book is enabling, regular kids are doing extraordinary things, one step at a time. We need more books like these, saying that girls not only can do anything they like, but they can do it exceptionally well.
This Book is a GiveAway
Our GiveAways are open to everyone: Just leave a comment below… by 8 December 2018. If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!
Click on the image below to see photos from the event…
Thank you so much to Imagnary House Book Publishers for a fabulous launch, and copies of the book to review and Giveaway.