With Kwame Alexander as a mentor and inspiration, author Aimee Lucido has crafted a beautifully-written free verse novel with Emmy in the Key of Code that artistically embeds computer coding into story narrative. This is hard to explain, for while there are books that using computer code as a narrative hook during this STEM/STEAM push, here, Lucido (herself a technology insider) pushes that even farther, using scripts and code as a way to dig deeper into Emmy, a newcomer struggling to find friends.
There is all sorts of Java script used, as Emmy learns about the beautiful underpinnings of code, and as she experiences and filters a complicated world through If/While/Then statements, Boolean numbers, brackets and commands, and all of the terminology and concepts of logic and design. Some of the later pages of the story are powerful in this regard, where elements of the story are written as raw computer code, as Emmy grapples with some difficult topics in her life.
I think this merging of programming and narrative is intriguing, and it never feels forced in Emmy in the Key of Code. It feels like a natural fit for Emmy’s story, and the use of free verse poetic writing gives Lucido plenty of room for story innovation, and she takes advantage of that right from the start.
This free verse novel would be a nice fit in any upper elementary or middle school classroom, and might provide a nice roadway into computer programming. I wonder how we might inspire students who have some knowledge of computers to write stories in this vein, where the coding architecture becomes the narrative frame?