Book Review: Agent Asha – Mission Shark Bytes by Sophie Deen, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar

Published in Australia on the 1st July, 2020 by Walker, an imprint of Walker Books. The first book in the Agent Asha series.

Add Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes to your Goodreads TBR:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54197363-agent-asha

Purchase Links:

Booktopia:

https://www.booktopia.com.au/agent-asha-sophie-deen/book/9781406382723.html

Dymocks:

https://www.dymocks.com.au/book/agent-asha-mission-shark-bytes-by-sophie-deen-and-anjan-sarkar-9781406382723

Readings:

https://www.readings.com.au/products/32084200/agent-asha-mission-shark-bytes

Book Depository:

https://www.bookdepository.com/Agent-Asha-Mission-Shark-Bytes-Sophie-Deen/9781406382723

ISBN: 9781406382723

Binding: Paperback

Australian RRP: $14.99

Genre: Middle Grade Adventure Fiction, Children’s Spy Fiction.

Page Count: 221

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from Walker Books Australia

Computer code just got dangerous in this action-packed spy adventure series

Asha Joshi has the perfect excuse not to finish her homework. She’s just been recruited to join the top-secret Children’s Spy Agency. Her first mission: SAVE THE WORLD. Can she do it? Asha’s a coder so she should be able to hack into the biggest tech company in the world, fight deadly sharks and figure out why the Internet has stopped working. All before bedtime. Easy, right? The story is a great way to engage young readers in coding, critical-thinking and STEM. It is mapped onto key National Curriculum Computing KS1 and KS2 concepts including algorithms, conditionals and debugging.

  • Agent Asha will be on TV! Turner International, owner of Cartoon Network, has strategically invested in Bright Little Labs to help it develop its digital offering. It’s the global media company’s first investment in the “edutainment” space.
  • Asha, a coding genius from a British Indian family, is a positive role model: fewer girls study computer science now than 10 years ago and only 14% of the STEM workforce are BAME.
  • The brand began life as a Kickstarter campaign, and since then the start-up has featured in the TelegraphGuardian, HuffPost and on TEDX. Named as an Independent Best Buy.

My Review:

I received a copy of Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes from Bright Little Labs/ Walker Books in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

What an exciting book! I love the innovation behind it, such a great way to get the little ones more into coding, imaginative thinking and STEM! More so, I love that the main character is a young girl, too! It often feels like there hasn’t always been voices for young girls in STEM, so it’s great to see a book like this has been written!

Asha Joshi is such a fun main character, one who loves nothing more than beating an algorithm or getting some coding in, she even configured a hamster robot companion named Tumble and has a nanny bot named Drone, who accompany her throughout her adventures. The very first illustration which precedes the first chapter depicts Asha cracking away on her calculator, with Drone surveying and Tumble lounging around on his own little device, before getting frantic that there might be a bug nearby! (Granted, the bug is actually to do with Asha’s calculator, not the traditional creepy crawly bug!).

This was such an entertaining story, such a cute and fun adventure! We follow Asha, Drone and Tumble as our main character navigates her first mission since being recruited by the secret Children’s Spy Agency, to try and figure out who’s bringing down the internet! Note: there’s a CSA Spy App that you can download on the Apple or Android App Store, which sounds super fun, a puzzle type initiative that allows one to have a play around with the idea of becoming a spy, cracking codes like Asha would’ve done!

Asha’s family dynamic was quite lovely, she’s a young biracial girl from a British Indian Family, with a grandmother who’s 1,000 years old and who can keep secrets better than anyone Asha knows! Young Asha isn’t afraid to think for herself too, all the more reason as to why I’d definitely encourage younger readers to pick this one up! It’s written with such fun humour too, I think kids (and adults too!) will definitely give a worthy chuckle to the spy equipment that Asha’s given, such as a selfie stick that only responds to the owners’ handling, otherwise it emits a horrible stench, which I just found hilarious!

There’s great illustrations throughout too, from depicting Asha and her friends surveying a piece of technology, to Asha’s parents of a morning getting ready for breakfast (Asha also has a sister, Anushka, who couldn’t be less alike, but I loved Asha’s family dynamic throughout, it was just completely lovely!), though where Asha loves her coding, Anushka loves her music. As well as the illustrations which accompany the main story, there’s also more techie type illustrations (which also follow along with the story), from fake news warning pages (‘warning: pizza causes diarrhoea, which was absolutely low-key amusing and an illuminated open book which Asha can open, revealing more swanky gadgets for her to utilise during her adventures! There’s also documents about the children’s Spy Agency, cover stories and everything in between!

There’s hopefully going to be two more books at least following Agent Asha, which I think will be completely exciting and I definitely do think Mission Shark Bytes is a worthy addition to ones TBR! There’s definitely something all ages can appreciate about it, I think! There’s a fun little disclaimer at the start of the book too, suggesting that ‘the contents of this book may or may not be based on a true story…’, sharks attacking internet cables, can you imagine! But what follows is a completely fun adventure, with completely memorable characters! I’ll definitely be recommending this book and can’t wait for more from Sophie Deen!

It’s worth mentioning too, that Agent Asha will be coming to the screen, which is exciting! Turner International, who looks after Cartoon Network, have invested in Bright Little Labs to assist with the digital production, it being their first foray into the world of edutainment’.

Happy Reading,

Brooklyn.

About Sophie Deen (from Walker Books Australia) –

Bright Little Labs’ founderΒ Sophie Deen‘s awards include the Barclays Start-Up Founder of the Year 2017, British Interactive Media Association Innovator 2017 andΒ Computer Weekly‘s “Most Influential Women in UK IT” 2017. Sophie worked at Code Club, alongside Google and the Department for Education, to help introduce the new coding curriculum in primary schools. She then worked on their international strategy in over 80 countries. Sophie believes wholeheartedly in the power of creativity, toilet humour and stories to inspire the next generation.

About Anjan Sarkar (from Walker Books Australia) –

Anjan SarkarΒ studied illustration at Manchester Metropolitan University, then worked as a barista, barman, document scanner, online content developer, graphic designer and now, freelance illustrator. Anjan works from a little studio in his home in Sheffield, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

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