Writing from Merlin’s point of view, Priya employs a fun, youthful voice with the occasional dose of mischievous dog. Hampe’s dynamic, slightly cartoonish pencil drawings capture Merlin’s energy and eagerness. While Matthew’s teacher uses the process of dyeing a sock to explain what an algorithm is, Merlin, a sock aficionado, is thoroughly distracted by the mouthwatering garment being dangled in the air “like juicy meat,” but the humor helps the lesson sneak into the minds of both the dog and the reader. Throughout the story, as Merlin tries to analyze whether his decisions will help the family and what actions he should take, Priya seamlessly teaches young readers how algorithms are used to find the best outcome.
Priya includes useful resources for young readers who want to learn about algorithms, as well as two helpful glossaries that make terms such as “fault tolerance” and “improvise” accessible. The book concludes with the recipe (“a yummy way to follow a set of steps to accomplish a task”) for an important part of the story, the cake, which is both fun and easy for kids to make with an adult. This delightful story has a winning mix of problem-solving, Christmas cheer, and a very cute, very helpful pup.
Takeaway: Parents who want to give their kids a head start with computer science will love this tale of a service dog learning to use algorithms.
Great for fans of Linda Liukas’s Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding, Josh Funk’s How to Code a Sandcastle.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A