Book Review: If I Were a Wizard

If I Were A Wizard – Paul Hamilton – EdTech Team Press – Published 1 November 2016

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Synopsis

While his fellow classmates dream of becoming football players, architects, and doctors, Ralph wants to be a wizard. With his magic, he would help his friends and family members—and even make the world a better place!

If I Were A Wizard introduces coding concepts through the enchanting imagination of a young boy. From Repeats and Loops to Algorithms, If I Were a Wizard prompts discussion and helps build conceptual understanding of coding.

My thoughts

If I Were A Wizard introduces the concepts of coding to children (and adults) in this imaginative picture book.

When Ralph’s teacher asks the class what they want to be when they grow up, there is the predictable reply of football player and doctor and architect. But Ralph wants to be a wizard. When his teacher asks why, Ralph explains all the ways in which he could help his family with his magic.

This book can be read as a simple but lovely story about a little boy who wants to help people, but cleverly hidden are the basic coding concepts. For example, when Ralph explains that he wants to make ten perfect waves for his father, this introduces the concepts of repeats and loops, and when he wants to help his grandfather retrace his steps to find his glasses this introduces sequence and order. Luckily for those of us who might be a little unsure about these concepts, they are all included in a glossary at the end of the book, which links the page to the concepts and provides an explanation.


I love how the focus of Ralph’s actions, actions that can be translated into coding, are all orientated around helping people. Ultimately that should be the goal of coding – seeing a problem and finding a solution. I also love how coding is related to magic – because to those who are just starting on the coding journey, codes can certainly seem like a magic language with fantastical results.

I would love to let someone with colouring pens loose on the images. Though, I admit that I do love the beautiful simplicity of the illustrations. Everything is done in black lines and shading, but a lot of the shading incorporates tiny 0s and 1s, just like binary code. Very clever.

I was fortunate to hear the author, Paul Hamilton, talk about his book, coding and how his book can be used with students. One such application can be with the Scratch Junior app, where children can use the backgrounds and characters to recreate Ralph’s actions or create some of their own.

If I Were A Wizard is the perfect book for introducing coding concepts to students and a fantastic tool and prompt for coding activities.

More information

Category: Children’s Fiction, Picture Books

Themes: Coding, Magic, Wizards, Children, Helping others.

Reading age guide: Ages 5 and up.

Published:  1 November 2016 by EdTech Team Press.

Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook.

ISBN: 9781945167263

Find it on Goodreads

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