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Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things

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Lauren Ipsum is a full-color, illustrated adventure that introduces you to computer science with a fantastical tale... that never once mentions computers! Follow Laurie, a clever girl lost in Userland, as she uses logic and problem solving skills to find her way home. Along the way, you'll explore all sorts of computer science concepts, including timing attacks, algorithm Lauren Ipsum is a full-color, illustrated adventure that introduces you to computer science with a fantastical tale... that never once mentions computers! Follow Laurie, a clever girl lost in Userland, as she uses logic and problem solving skills to find her way home. Along the way, you'll explore all sorts of computer science concepts, including timing attacks, algorithm design, and common programming problems like the traveling salesman. After the story, easy explanations connect real-world computer science to the various characters, locations, and objects Laurie encounters on her journey. Lauren Ipsum is an entertaining way to help kids develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills used in working with computers. "Lauren Ipsum captures the spirit of problem-solving and ignites readers' imaginations. Through a thoughtful, young heroine, it introduces girls and boys to computer science and to a new way of thinking and problem solving.a Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO For ages 8+ (and their parents!)


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Lauren Ipsum is a full-color, illustrated adventure that introduces you to computer science with a fantastical tale... that never once mentions computers! Follow Laurie, a clever girl lost in Userland, as she uses logic and problem solving skills to find her way home. Along the way, you'll explore all sorts of computer science concepts, including timing attacks, algorithm Lauren Ipsum is a full-color, illustrated adventure that introduces you to computer science with a fantastical tale... that never once mentions computers! Follow Laurie, a clever girl lost in Userland, as she uses logic and problem solving skills to find her way home. Along the way, you'll explore all sorts of computer science concepts, including timing attacks, algorithm design, and common programming problems like the traveling salesman. After the story, easy explanations connect real-world computer science to the various characters, locations, and objects Laurie encounters on her journey. Lauren Ipsum is an entertaining way to help kids develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills used in working with computers. "Lauren Ipsum captures the spirit of problem-solving and ignites readers' imaginations. Through a thoughtful, young heroine, it introduces girls and boys to computer science and to a new way of thinking and problem solving.a Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO For ages 8+ (and their parents!)

30 review for Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This book is supposed to be released in December, but since I helped funding it through Kickstarter, I received my copy 3 weeks early and couldn't wait to read it. Written by an engineer working for Facebook and his wife, "Lauren Ipsum" is meant to be a book for teaching computer science to children. This is done in the form of a fairy tale that doesn't actually involve any computers, but instead focusses on programming as a way of thinking. This is a commendable teaching approach and to be hone This book is supposed to be released in December, but since I helped funding it through Kickstarter, I received my copy 3 weeks early and couldn't wait to read it. Written by an engineer working for Facebook and his wife, "Lauren Ipsum" is meant to be a book for teaching computer science to children. This is done in the form of a fairy tale that doesn't actually involve any computers, but instead focusses on programming as a way of thinking. This is a commendable teaching approach and to be honest not only children can profit from this. In fact I'm likely to use some of the stories and metapors from the book in future discussions, especially the one about the "byzantine process". Note that this is also fun for grown-ups, since it's full of nerdy puns that will be lost on kids anyway ("a maze of twisty little passages" anyone?).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason Hall

    Sort of an Alice in Wonderland for computer nerds. Also had elements of Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land, except with better explanations of the algorithms used.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    In its best moments this book reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth (quirky and thought-provoking with funny word play and turning of abstract ideas into entertaining characters and scenarios). Some of it felt more contrived than the Phantom Tollbooth, but it was overall an enjoyable read. My biggest complaint about the book is that the "guide" that helps the reader relate everything in the story to its reference point in computer science is located in the back of the book. Given that this book i In its best moments this book reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth (quirky and thought-provoking with funny word play and turning of abstract ideas into entertaining characters and scenarios). Some of it felt more contrived than the Phantom Tollbooth, but it was overall an enjoyable read. My biggest complaint about the book is that the "guide" that helps the reader relate everything in the story to its reference point in computer science is located in the back of the book. Given that this book is supposedly for kids, I think this is a really misguided choice. Very few kids are going to even think of looking at the information in the guide as they read the story. They're just going to read the story and gloss over things they don't understand (which will be a lot because the whole object of the story is to introduce new terms and concepts)and thereby miss out on most of what they could learn (and very likely get bored and put the book down). The only way I could see this book really working for kids as-is would be if an adult who is already familiar with the computer science content read it with a child and took the time to explain everything, work through the little puzzles in the back etc. To make it work for more kids reading on their own they would not need to change the story at all, but simply change the layout of the book. Something like the "Eye Witness" book series would be better. All the information in the guide should be on the same page with the relevant part of the story in little "Did you know?" or "Try this!" boxes off to the side. Kids would eat that up and learn a lot from it -- in my opinion :)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anna Wiggins

    I really wanted to like this book more than I do. It is a mosaic adventure story in the tradition of Alice and The Phantom Tollbooth, and it does that well enough, but the emotional payoff at the end of the book just doesn't work. The book never quite makes you care about any of the characters. Instead, it's very invested in its ideas. There are some good ideas, and some great and terrible jokes... but without an emotional core to hold it together, it all just feels a bit flat. I really wanted to like this book more than I do. It is a mosaic adventure story in the tradition of Alice and The Phantom Tollbooth, and it does that well enough, but the emotional payoff at the end of the book just doesn't work. The book never quite makes you care about any of the characters. Instead, it's very invested in its ideas. There are some good ideas, and some great and terrible jokes... but without an emotional core to hold it together, it all just feels a bit flat.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John Schwabacher

    My son Sam was assigned this book for an honors Computer Science course at the UW. It is the closest thing I've ever found to one of my favorite kids's books - The Phantom Tollbooth. It follows a young girl through a fantasy land where she is introduced to computer science ideas (with no computers in the story at all) and solves problems to reach her goals. There are quirky characters and gratuitous puns. Very enjoyable. My son Sam was assigned this book for an honors Computer Science course at the UW. It is the closest thing I've ever found to one of my favorite kids's books - The Phantom Tollbooth. It follows a young girl through a fantasy land where she is introduced to computer science ideas (with no computers in the story at all) and solves problems to reach her goals. There are quirky characters and gratuitous puns. Very enjoyable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is basically The Phantom Tollbooth, but for computer science. I think the first time I tried to read it, I was too caught up in trying to understand every little nuance and how it related to computer science. I picked it up again today, and just read it a a story -- much more enjoyable! I even feel like I learned something! This book is basically The Phantom Tollbooth, but for computer science. I think the first time I tried to read it, I was too caught up in trying to understand every little nuance and how it related to computer science. I picked it up again today, and just read it a a story -- much more enjoyable! I even feel like I learned something!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shaz

    I was downloading the ebooks from my Kobo library and I found THIS! It gave me the kind of feeling you get when you come across an old favourite forgotten on a top shelf. True, it's only been maybe five or six years since I read this, but I'd quite forgotten about it. It's a lovely little book introducing computer sciencey concepts and ideas to kids. Yes, I already knew about the traveling merchant problem but it was fun to meet him anyway. I was downloading the ebooks from my Kobo library and I found THIS! It gave me the kind of feeling you get when you come across an old favourite forgotten on a top shelf. True, it's only been maybe five or six years since I read this, but I'd quite forgotten about it. It's a lovely little book introducing computer sciencey concepts and ideas to kids. Yes, I already knew about the traveling merchant problem but it was fun to meet him anyway.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Cummings

    Cute story that would be an amazing read for budding scientists and mathematicians. There's tons of logic puzzles and theories in there that are taught with real life examples. It was an alright read and I did get that happy feeling at the end :) Cute story that would be an amazing read for budding scientists and mathematicians. There's tons of logic puzzles and theories in there that are taught with real life examples. It was an alright read and I did get that happy feeling at the end :)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kam Yung Soh

    An interesting tale about a girl who wanders into Userland and while reading about her quest to return to her home, the reader picks up concepts in Computer Science and Programming without ever encountering a computer (which is just a concrete application of Computer Science). Starting with meeting Jargon-like creatures that nearly overwhelm her, she meets up with the Travelling Salesman who directs her to a person who creates ideas which starts her on a journey delivering telescopes to various l An interesting tale about a girl who wanders into Userland and while reading about her quest to return to her home, the reader picks up concepts in Computer Science and Programming without ever encountering a computer (which is just a concrete application of Computer Science). Starting with meeting Jargon-like creatures that nearly overwhelm her, she meets up with the Travelling Salesman who directs her to a person who creates ideas which starts her on a journey delivering telescopes to various locations. Along the way, she picks up a Xor chameleon, meets Achilles and the Tortoise, encounters a recursive turning, learns the insecurity of passwords (including hacking one with a timing attack) and learns to program and solve problems for various people. She eventually finds her way back home after a journey through a binary tree. And if most of what I've said does not make sense to you, then it's probably time to pick up the book and learn about them and discover how to get some of the concepts of Computer Science and programming via this tale that does not feature any computer that we are familiar with.

  10. 4 out of 5

    H Lynnea

    I adored this book. There, no beating around the bush for me. This books is very short, and a nice quick read, and surprisingly informative. It's about computer science and computer programming, without having a single computer in it. How do you do that? By showing the underlying principles. The basis of any computer programming is being able to apply logic and to break down complex ideas into simple ones. These are some of the principles that the book teaches. Like one of my most favorite books, I adored this book. There, no beating around the bush for me. This books is very short, and a nice quick read, and surprisingly informative. It's about computer science and computer programming, without having a single computer in it. How do you do that? By showing the underlying principles. The basis of any computer programming is being able to apply logic and to break down complex ideas into simple ones. These are some of the principles that the book teaches. Like one of my most favorite books, The Phantom Tollbooth, this book teaches you without being obvious. The main character, Lauren Ipsum, goes along on her adventures and learns lessons, and we end up learning right along side her. Truly, I recommend this book to adults old and young who have any interest or curiosity about computers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Curtis

    I enjoyed this book. I'm not the target audience, though. I put this on my wishlist partially because I wanted to evaluate how appropriate it would be for gifting to the children in my life. I'm convinced that people who are already familiar with computer science/engineering would enjoy this and find it clever. It perhaps might be appropriate for children with a parent or very close adult with whom they could discuss the topics in the book. My intuition is that children without such a resource o I enjoyed this book. I'm not the target audience, though. I put this on my wishlist partially because I wanted to evaluate how appropriate it would be for gifting to the children in my life. I'm convinced that people who are already familiar with computer science/engineering would enjoy this and find it clever. It perhaps might be appropriate for children with a parent or very close adult with whom they could discuss the topics in the book. My intuition is that children without such a resource or prior exposure to CS would later have "Aha!" moments about the book's references when they finally learn about topics like timing attacks, specific jargon, or the traveling salesman problem.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This was a really fun read - it's meant to introduce computer science concepts, without beating you over the head with them. I really enjoyed how the book had different layers - on the surface it's a story about a girl who gets lost and has to find her way home. But on the way she encounters a Travelling Salesman, Fencepost problems, binary decisions ... and a chameleon named XOR who doesn't blend very well with his surroundings. The more you pay attention, the more fun the details are. And there This was a really fun read - it's meant to introduce computer science concepts, without beating you over the head with them. I really enjoyed how the book had different layers - on the surface it's a story about a girl who gets lost and has to find her way home. But on the way she encounters a Travelling Salesman, Fencepost problems, binary decisions ... and a chameleon named XOR who doesn't blend very well with his surroundings. The more you pay attention, the more fun the details are. And there's a helpful appendix that expands upon key concepts. It would be interesting to read this with a young person.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jamie King

    This book is absolutely brilliant. I try be critical in my reviews and put a lot respect into the rating system, reserving the 5 star spot for those only really deserving and valuable- trying to stay objective for books I know I enjoyed far more than it was worth. The logic puzzles Lauren encounters along the way use great real world examples to teach new concepts that force you to stretch your imagination when problem solving. Young readers should find the book easily approachable. It remains tim This book is absolutely brilliant. I try be critical in my reviews and put a lot respect into the rating system, reserving the 5 star spot for those only really deserving and valuable- trying to stay objective for books I know I enjoyed far more than it was worth. The logic puzzles Lauren encounters along the way use great real world examples to teach new concepts that force you to stretch your imagination when problem solving. Young readers should find the book easily approachable. It remains timeless though in how it imparts values that we could all use in our everyday life.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mayjune

    I loved this book. You can think of this book as Pre - "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" i.e. book to read before you read SICP. It's really fascinating to read such a beautifully written book. It's a short book which you finish it in few hours. And I would say it is for everyone and anyone. Even if you are not into computer science, this book will talk about the bigger ideas which are applicable to any field. I loved this book. You can think of this book as Pre - "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" i.e. book to read before you read SICP. It's really fascinating to read such a beautifully written book. It's a short book which you finish it in few hours. And I would say it is for everyone and anyone. Even if you are not into computer science, this book will talk about the bigger ideas which are applicable to any field.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bethe

    This book will probably be enjoyed by 2 types of readers: hi tech computer types or no tech fantasy fans. I guess I know enough tech stuff to notice some of the events/topics/characters are actually computer programming things but am annoyed by the tech parts I don't recognize. As a pure fantasy, it was too rambling and unconnected for me. Back matter has details on all the computer programming stuff. This book will probably be enjoyed by 2 types of readers: hi tech computer types or no tech fantasy fans. I guess I know enough tech stuff to notice some of the events/topics/characters are actually computer programming things but am annoyed by the tech parts I don't recognize. As a pure fantasy, it was too rambling and unconnected for me. Back matter has details on all the computer programming stuff.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Keith Peters

    This was sold to me as a nice introduction to algorithms for kids. It's definitely Alice in Wonderland for ideas and algorithms, but the connection seems as tenuous as Alice in Wonderland teaching about non-Euclidean geometry. And it felt like just a large collection of in-jokes for people who already had a firm grasp on the material. This was sold to me as a nice introduction to algorithms for kids. It's definitely Alice in Wonderland for ideas and algorithms, but the connection seems as tenuous as Alice in Wonderland teaching about non-Euclidean geometry. And it felt like just a large collection of in-jokes for people who already had a firm grasp on the material.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    Cute book with lots of hints at different computer science/programming things. It reminds me of The Man Who Counted, but without as many puzzles for you to do along the way. There are chapter-by-chapter notes at the end explaining some of the references.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marya

    I may have tagged this as children-lit, but I can't really decide where this should go. It's not written lyrically, so an adult can't turn it into a read aloud. Yet, the child reading this book wouldn't be able to skim over parts they don't understand, as the whole point of the book is to Learn Something. The best thing to do would be to use this book as a discussion between an adult and a child as they read it together. Like Alice through the Looking Glass, this book aims to teach children abou I may have tagged this as children-lit, but I can't really decide where this should go. It's not written lyrically, so an adult can't turn it into a read aloud. Yet, the child reading this book wouldn't be able to skim over parts they don't understand, as the whole point of the book is to Learn Something. The best thing to do would be to use this book as a discussion between an adult and a child as they read it together. Like Alice through the Looking Glass, this book aims to teach children about a world very different than their own. Instead of the rules of chess, Lauren Ipsum looks at the world of logic and mathematics. As the author states, the words computer programming may be in the subtitle, but that's not what's really between the pages. In that sense, it is moderately successful. The book's biggest failure is trying to encourage girls to code. Lauren Ipsum may be female, but her characterization is paper thin. There's not much on the page to identify with. Secondly, one of the reasons cited for girls not becoming coders has to do with the current culture in computer programming. The book does nothing to break the stereotype that coders are anti-social puzzle solvers. Lauren isn't shown to have, nor does she need, emotional warmth or social skills to solve her problems. By fleshing this out as a more of a narrative and less of a primer, both goals can be accomplished. Maybe in the sequel?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. "I feel I should warn you: You won't find any computers in this book. If the idea of a computer science book without computers upsets you, please close your eyes until you've finished reading the rest of this page." And so begins the book assigned to my 6th grader as one of his resources for his math class. It reminds me so much of one of my favorite books, The Phantom Tollbooth. Both utilize logic and questions and obvious statements to show just how little thinking we have become accustomed to "I feel I should warn you: You won't find any computers in this book. If the idea of a computer science book without computers upsets you, please close your eyes until you've finished reading the rest of this page." And so begins the book assigned to my 6th grader as one of his resources for his math class. It reminds me so much of one of my favorite books, The Phantom Tollbooth. Both utilize logic and questions and obvious statements to show just how little thinking we have become accustomed to doing. And it is an enjoyable ride of puns and riddles though the learning process. Computer science is not my strength. But I love a good book that makes me think without pretentiousness. This is it. The protagonist is a young girl who finds herself, Alice-like, in another world unlike the one she knows. She accepts truths and rebuffs them, is confused by their confusion and learns how to navigate in their language enhanced by her own powers of creativity, questions and savvy applications. I was confused through much of the book as the jargon was not similar to what I know and use - but I kept going. Guess what? That's when I discovered the super handy field guide to Userland which explained many of the terms that had flown above and beyond my grasp. Now that I've read that, I'm ready to read the book again and likely enjoy it more.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Mclean

    I can see what Bueno was aiming for here combining an Alice In Wonderland like story with computing and computer science concepts. Unfortunately I don't think Lauren Ipsum delivers on that premise, with a fairly dry story, a plot that jumps from point to point without much interconnection and the descriptions of CS elements feeling very shallow, almost to the point of just name dropping at times. My favorite part was the appendix that worked through each chapter going into more details on the var I can see what Bueno was aiming for here combining an Alice In Wonderland like story with computing and computer science concepts. Unfortunately I don't think Lauren Ipsum delivers on that premise, with a fairly dry story, a plot that jumps from point to point without much interconnection and the descriptions of CS elements feeling very shallow, almost to the point of just name dropping at times. My favorite part was the appendix that worked through each chapter going into more details on the various concepts raised there. I love the idea but I think it could have benefited with a tighter, more in depth, focus on fewer concepts to be helpful as a learning tool.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Albert Sun

    Read this to my 5 y.o. one or two chapters at a time as a series of bedtime stories. Some of the concepts are a bit advanced for his age, but overall he enjoyed the fanciful characters and situations very much. He even cried at the end... won't spoil it by revealing why, but nothing terrible happens, it's just a little poignant. Love this book for its creativity and the fun ways that computer science/mathematics concepts are introduced organically as part of the world and incorporated into a bea Read this to my 5 y.o. one or two chapters at a time as a series of bedtime stories. Some of the concepts are a bit advanced for his age, but overall he enjoyed the fanciful characters and situations very much. He even cried at the end... won't spoil it by revealing why, but nothing terrible happens, it's just a little poignant. Love this book for its creativity and the fun ways that computer science/mathematics concepts are introduced organically as part of the world and incorporated into a beautiful story. I do like this better than Alice in Wonderland (which has parts that just seem overly violent for a kids story).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Adorable Alice journey set in the world of computer programming. You don't need to be proficient in programming logic to enjoy this quick read. Only a programmer would understand all the references, but it's written for beginners to enjoy. Plus, a lot of the concepts explored are explained at the end, anyway. Adorable Alice journey set in the world of computer programming. You don't need to be proficient in programming logic to enjoy this quick read. Only a programmer would understand all the references, but it's written for beginners to enjoy. Plus, a lot of the concepts explored are explained at the end, anyway.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Senthil Kumaran

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Learnt some valuable computer science concepts too since this was taught to a child, it was very easy to grasp. The concepts share are foundational and it is presented in a neat, easy to understand manner. I internalized the importance of "naming", the thing with jargons and principle of 5-whys. Very helpful book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Learnt some valuable computer science concepts too since this was taught to a child, it was very easy to grasp. The concepts share are foundational and it is presented in a neat, easy to understand manner. I internalized the importance of "naming", the thing with jargons and principle of 5-whys. Very helpful book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Essentially Phantom Tollbooth for computer science concepts. Generally thin plot and characters, and doesn't convey the concepts particularly well because the explanations are hidden in an appendix at the back of the book. The appendix doesn't even have the courtesy to be in chronological order (listed alphabetically). I did like the Jargon critters. Wysiwyg! Essentially Phantom Tollbooth for computer science concepts. Generally thin plot and characters, and doesn't convey the concepts particularly well because the explanations are hidden in an appendix at the back of the book. The appendix doesn't even have the courtesy to be in chronological order (listed alphabetically). I did like the Jargon critters. Wysiwyg!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Feaver

    It was interesting and quick. It referenced a lot of computer scienc-y things (lorem ipsum isn't really computer science! But it is cute, I suppose). The explanation of those computer science things was somewhat lacking. A novice to the scene will learn a small amount of things in low detail and understand most of the jokes. A seasoned expert will appreciate some of the humor a bit more. It was interesting and quick. It referenced a lot of computer scienc-y things (lorem ipsum isn't really computer science! But it is cute, I suppose). The explanation of those computer science things was somewhat lacking. A novice to the scene will learn a small amount of things in low detail and understand most of the jokes. A seasoned expert will appreciate some of the humor a bit more.

  26. 5 out of 5

    MaoMeow1035

    5th to 7th grade reading level the girl called Laurie got lost and it is up to her to navigate herself through Userland. This book teaches you about some technological phrases and riddle like questions.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Yoakum

    A fun and quick read that I would approve for younger readers. I think it would be an enjoyable read even if it is only read for a fun aspect. It is a good way to introduce computer science jargon and a few concepts.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kim Mens

    This book is like an Alice in Wpnderland for computer scientists. Its unclear to me however what the target audience is. Kids may miss a lot of the deeper contents. Computer scientists may not learn a lot new. Still, a fun read during a long train ride or flight.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This book not a technical or even theoretical book on computer science. Rather it has a fun story with computer science ideas thrown in. There is an explanation of how concepts of the story relate to real computer science at the end of the book. It is simple enough for almost anyone to enjoy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laura Haske

    What a creative book! I read it aloud with my son because it was one of his favorite books. It's a story that explores the concepts that underpin computer science. There's not much in terms of character development, but it's a fun exploration of ideas. What a creative book! I read it aloud with my son because it was one of his favorite books. It's a story that explores the concepts that underpin computer science. There's not much in terms of character development, but it's a fun exploration of ideas.

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