Graphic Book Review: Super Scratch Programming Adventure

Some people learn by diving in. Some people learn by reading the manual. Super Scratch Programming Adventure is a little bit of both as it is both a graphic novel of sorts and a tutorial for Scratch animation software. It’s also a bit dated, as a newer version of MIT’s free Scratch software is already out. But I like the way this book sets out to engage learners with a little bit of story told as comics and graphic novels, and then a series of ever-increasing-in-complexity activities.

Everything from simple commands, to maze games, to more complex animation is covered in this graphic manual. The colorful visuals are key, as the reader/creator can follow along pretty easily enough with the tutorials. I’ve used Scratch a little as a way to show students the underpinning of programming. I never found it robust enough or easy enough for many kids to use regularly. But the visual element of how programming works – how systems work, really, as one piece influences another — makes Scratch worthy of consideration for basic animation and programming work.

The graphic story that weaves together the tutorials is a computer science student named Mitch who encounters Scratchy, a cyberspace cat, and a team of Cosmic Defenders — Gobo, Fabu and Pete — who help Mitch and Scratchy solve problems while holding off the Dark Wizard and Dark Minions who want to destroy space and time. Programming skills save the day!

This book is worth a look if you are venturing into Scratch, but keep in mind the updates to Scratch, so not every activity might still be replicable as represented in the book. Still, there are plenty of tutorials online and resources for using Scratch in the classroom, including the ScratchEd site.

Peace (in the scritchy scratch),


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