How to Code a Sandcastle (Girls Who Code #1)

by Josh Funk (Author) Sara Palacios (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Girls Who Code

All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they're going to use code to get the job done. Using fundamental computer coding concepts like sequences and loops, Pearl and Pascal are able to break down their sandcastle problem into small, manageable steps. If they can create working code, this could turn out to be the best beach day ever!

With renowned computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code, Josh Funk and Sara Palacios use humor, relatable situations, and bright artwork to introduce kids to the fun of coding.

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Kirkus Reviews

Pearl has brown skin and textured, black pigtails, and the other beachgoers are racially diverse. An accessible introduction to coding rules that also easily entertains.


With an introduction by Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, a diverse cast of characters, and delightful visual background humor, this painless introduction to coding basics will engage, entertain, and educate audiences.

School Library Journal

Pearl's attempts to build a sandcastle have met with one disaster after another, but she tries again using code and some help from her robot Pascal. Employing loops, if-then-else conditions, and sequences, can the pair succeed? Funk includes tongue-in-cheek computer references including the names of Pearl and Pascal, which also are names of programming languages. Palacios joins in the fun by depicting loops with the words wrapping around a swim float or following the course of a moat around the sand castle. This creative pair have taken a common childhood problem and used it to explain how coding works. They show everything from breaking a problem into smaller pieces to building on existing code. A "Pearl and Pascal's Guide to Coding" section follows the story and explains the programming terms in more detail. Readers will enjoy the narrative even if they have never worked with code before and may find themselves curious about other applications for coding. VERDICT An excellent, age-appropriate introduction to the world of coding. Highly recommended.—Suzanne Costner, Fairview Elementary School, Maryville, TN

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Josh Funk
By day, Josh Funk writes C++, Java Code, and Python scripts as a software engineer, which he's been doing for the last twenty years. In his spare time he uses ABC's, drinks Java coffee, and writes picture book manuscripts such as How to Code a Sandcastle, Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, The Case of the Stinky Stench, Dear Dragon, and more. Josh graduated from the UMass Amherst Commonwealth College with a degree in computer science. He is a board member of the Writers' Loft in Sherborn, Massachusetts and the co-coordinator of the 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conference.

Sara Palacios illustrated the Pura Belpré honor book Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match. She divides her time between San Francisco and Mexico City.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication date
May 20, 2018
Girls Who Code
BISAC categories
JUV032060 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Water Sports
JUV049000 - Juvenile Fiction | Computers & Digital Media
JUV056000 - Juvenile Fiction | Robots
Library of Congress categories
Computer programming
JUVENILE FICTION / Sports & Recreation / Wate

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