If you are into coding, educational children’s literature or you happen to be Finnish, you might have already heard of the book I’m about to showcase. I’m a huge fan of this book and the concept behind it, so without further ado, let me present to you Hello Ruby!
Written and illustrated by Linda Liukas
Badge of greatness for the imaginative way of morphing a learning experience into a story
The mastermind behind Hello Ruby is Linda Liukas, a Finnish programmer and educator, whose mission is to make the world of technology more approachable for everyone – including kids. That’s how her book, Hello Ruby, was born. Hello Ruby is a story about a little girl, whose father gives her a mystery to solve. The mystery takes Ruby on an adventure, during which she meets lots of new friends; penguins, Django and his pet snake Python, Snow Leopard, Robots and Foxes.
As you might already guess from their names, all the characters of the story are based on and inspired by actual technologies and things related to programming. This kind of insider jokes add to the whimsical story and will surely amuse older readers as well. Aimed at 5 – 7 year olds, the story itself is far from the complexities of programming. The book introduces programming concepts such as decomposition, pattern recognition and sequences through the characters, and applies the concepts to everyday situations kids can relate to.
At the back of the book the reader can find fun activities related to the concepts introduced in the story. The book is surely at its best when a child gets to read it with a grown-up, visiting the activity section of each chapter together after reading them. (Though I assure you, doing this by yourself as an adult is pretty fun, too!)
Prior to Hello Ruby, the author-illustrator Liukas had no experience in writing children’s stories nor illustrating them. According to her, she studied illustration on Pinterest and practiced by drawing things over and over again until she would get them right. Although drawn digitally (with the legendary Kyle Brushes I recently started using as well), the illustrations in the book have a soft hand-drawn – even sketch-like – feel to them. The cute simplified characters with their innocent faces make me think of Japan and Hello Kitty. With this kind of aesthetics and a technology driven concept it’s no surprise that the book has made it big in Asia, too!
The determination of Liukas to get things done and learn on the way is really admirable. It blows my mind that she has made Hello Ruby happen all on her own by crowdfunding the first book through Kickstarter and writing and illustrating the story by herself. With. No. Prior. Experience. Reading about people like her is truly a motivational kick in the butt for those of us who tend to make excuses to not get started and be slightly less efficient when it comes to executing Great Ideas.
Kudos to Linda! To find out more about the philosophy and the story behind Hello Ruby, watch this TED talk: