Hacking The Code Book Review for MCBD

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023 is an online live event held January 26, 2923 now in its 10th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

Ten years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and on school bookshelves. Read about their Mission & History HERE.

“Hacking The Code The Ziggety Zaggety Road of a D-Kid” by Gea Meijering and illustrated by Mads Johan Øgaard is a children's chapter book written from the perspective of an elementary boy who struggles with dyslexia. It is published by icarepress.com and told with a sense of humor and written in a conversational kid-friendly tone. The vocabulary used is appropriate for the 7-10 age group reading or listening to the story. The storyline is enhanced by illustrations that are black and white cartoons perfect for this age group.
icarepress.com for gifting me a book to review
John Kees simply known as Kees takes the reader on his ziggety zaggety journey of self-discovery trying to fit into a traditional school setting with dyslexia. Each day Kees feels he is hacking a code to survive since he is a slow reader and writer, always the last one to finish.

“Hacking the Code” can be a fun read-aloud book to use in the classroom promoting discussion on how all our brains are different and how we all learn in different ways. It also addresses misconceptions and truths about dyslexia defined as a learning disability. A struggling child can easily identify with Kees's school experiences, his frustration with a younger sibling who can do everything better and faster, his bonding with friends who form a club called NADMIL (Never A Dull Moment In Ladville) and his bold adventures with best friend Pete.

John Kees simply known as Kees is the star character who details his fifth-grade year. His overly active imagination often gets him in trouble with teachers and the principal pulling pranks that create humorous situations. Kees often finds it a bit scary watching his classmates fill up blank pages with words, sentences, and paragraphs leaving him staring at a blank page. Over the course of the year, Kees found he was no stranger to punishment. But the hardest one for him to swallow was from the principal to write a two-page essay. He states “I would rather do trash duty any day over writing a senseless essay.”

I found one of the most creative and ingenious parts of the story was the use of the analogy of Smartphones Apple and Android to explain how the brain works. Smartphones are something easily recognizable for children to relate to. Kees learns his “Apple Brain” is not made for a lot of school activities but found his brain did better at decoding pictures and, designing things. thinking, dreaming, and inventing rather than an “Android Brain” which focuses on reading texts, instructions, and number of related activities.

A shift in the storyline occurs when Kees finally is diagnosed as being dyslexia. After a battery of tests he invites the reader to participate in some sample tests, often found in psycho-ed assessments, to identify with either being an “Android thinker” or an “Apple thinker.” storyline encourages one to accept the learning difference side of dyslexia rather than viewing it simply as a disability.

The author hopes the learning community will rethink the ways of teaching children who have “Apple Brains” who find it necessary each day to use a hacking code to get by. Celebrating and valuing the strengths of each student is one of the ultimate goals of teaching. I highly recommend this book for teachers and parents as a great learning tool with a focus on diversity.
A bonus not to be overlooked- a free lesson plan and activity guide at
Book Reviewer: Sue Ready is a freelance writer, food blogger, book reviewer of all genres, and former middle school teacher. 

All About The Author
Gea is passionate, creative, and original ideas give her a jolt of energy. She is also a storyteller, marketeer, parent mentor, and artist with a passion and a mission. As the mother of a dyslexic son, she researched dyslexia better than an FBI agent would, and witnessed dyslexia struggle and the gift it can be, upfront and personal. Her reason to write a children's book is that it offers kids and families the opportunity to identify with the different characters, make visible the learning struggles some students go through, and bring dyslexia awareness to the community. Gea grew up in the Netherlands and is now living in SoCal.

All About the Illustrator Mads Johan Øgaard
Mads Johan Øgaard is an illustrator, animator, public speaker, and special education teacher who creates art to improve the awareness of learning differences and mental health. The illustrations in "Hacking the Code" are made using Paint tool Sai and Clip Studio Paint. They are done digitally and are cartoons done in black and white with a series of images telling the story of Kees experiences with dyslexia. The style imitates a sketchy/ink-on paper-like style.

The audio version of “Hacking the Code” shines as an alternative format for those who struggle with reading and decoding the vocabulary in the book. It's an enjoyable way to follow along with the storyline. Here's your giveaway code so you can listen for free. https://authors-direct.com/redeem/?code=F1DB47BBC

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Authors: Sivan Hong, Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett, Josh Funk , Stephanie M. Wildman, Gwen Jackson, Diana Huang, Afsaneh Moradian, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Eugenia Chu, Jacqueline Jules, Alejandra Domenzain, Gaia Cornwall, Ruth Spiro, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Tonya Duncan Ellis, Kiyanda and Benjamin Young/Twin Powers Books, Kimberly Lee , Tameka Fryer Brown, Talia Aikens-Nuñez, Marcia Argueta Mickelson, Kerry O’Malley Cerra, Jennie Liu, Heather Murphy Capps, Diane Wilson, Sun Yung Shin, Shannon Gibney, John Coy, Irene Latham and Charles Waters, Maritza M Mejia, Lois Petren, J.C. Kato and J.C.², CultureGroove, Lindsey Rowe Parker, Red Comet Press, Shifa Saltagi Safadi, Nancy Tupper Ling, Deborah Acio, Asha Hagood, Priya Kumari, Chris Singleton, Padma Venkatraman, Teresa Robeson, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Martha Seif Simpson, Rochelle Melander, Alva Sachs, Moni Ritchie Hadley, Gea Meijering, Frances Díaz Evans, Michael Genhart, Angela H. Dale, Courtney Kelly, Queenbe Monyei, Jamia Wilson, Charnaie Gordon, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Debbie Zapata, Jacquetta Nammar Feldman, Natasha Yim, Tracy T. Agnelli, Kitty Feld, Anna Maria DiDio, Ko Kim, Shachi Kaushik 

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📌 Register for the MCBD Read Your World Virtual Party

Join us on Thursday, January 26, 2023, at 9 pm EST for the 10th annual Multicultural Children's Book Day Read Your World Virtual Party!

This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.

We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **