Good morning! Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Sophie Deen’s Agent Asha: Operation Cyber Chop!
Author: Sophie Deen
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: 2nd June 2022
This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review
About The Book…
Agent Asha is back in the second installment of this action-packed spy adventure series.
Top-secret Children’s Spy Agency newest recruit Asha Joshi is back with a brand new mission. Asha is suspicious when evil teenage trillionaire Shelly Belly proposes to cut down all the trees in Asha’s favourite park to make room for CyberOaks: the new tech trees. Asha’s a top coder and super spy so she should be able to face robot security parrots, navigate a suspicious internship and travel to Shelly’s super-confidential base in Scotland to crack the case. Will Asha and her robo-hamster sidekick Tumble be able to protect the park and save the day?
The story is a great way to engage young readers in coding and critical-thinking as it combines STEM with exciting adventures. It is mapped onto key National Curriculum Computing KS1 and KS2 concepts including algorithms, conditionals and debugging.
Shelly Belly is on a mission to replace real trees with her latest invention Cyber Oaks – an excellent way for her to monitor everyone and what does is matter if it’s bad for the planet… Fortunately Agent Asha is on it and must come up with a plan to stop the spread of fake news and ensure people know the truth and vote no!
My younger self would have absolutely loved this book, as a child I absolutely loved a good mystery, adventure story and I was all about maths and science – I had a massive collection of the Horrible Science and Murderous Maths books – so this would have been right up my street!
Operation Cyber Chop is the second book in the Agent Asha series and I’d not read the first book. It became clear pretty early on that there was some history between Asha and Shelly, and I was a bit worried that I’d be a little lost because I wasn’t aware of the events of the first book. Fortunately this story is self contained enough that it’s entirely possible to read it without having read the first. Although I would absolutely recommend reading the first book first, I’m intrigued as to how Asha ended up in the CSA and exactly what happened between Asha and Shelly the first time they met!
For me the first few chapters were a little slow, but I find that with most books as they set the stage for the action to come. Once that was done I definitely felt a change in pace, after all Asha didn’t have long to save the day! I think the pacing will certainly keep kids engaged in the story, wanting to find out if Asha can save the trees (and the planet) or if Shelly will win the vote and see Wembley Park switched to Cyber Oaks.
I thought Asha was a really likeable character and I felt the depiction of her relationship with her sister, and the ups and downs was pretty accurate! I’m sure we’ve all had moments where we think a sibling has done something terrible, and then realised the truth and had to think about how we apologise to them! Bonus points for Tumble the robot hamster, amusing in book form but I think I’d have to turn him off before long in real life! And Drone Asha’s over protective NannyBot! Quick mention to the baddie in the story too, I actually feel quite bad for Shelly, I definitely feel there were some hints at a backstory when an old friend Giti was mentioned. I’m not sure if it’s something that might be explored more in a future book, or if it was backstory from the first book I’d missed.
I thought the inclusion of little fact sheets about potential issues online such as bad buttons and spambots were really interesting and a great way of introducing some of the potential issues with the internet to kids. I think they presented the information in an accessible way and they could prove great conversation starters between children and their parents. My only slight criticism is that sometimes the placement of these fact sheets and some of the other inserts felt a little off due to the layout of the book. On occasions you’d be part way through a sentence and the next page would be a full page insert. I think if they could have been included in a way that felt a little more organic so the story continued to flow it would have been even better.
Finally I need to give a mention to Priyanka Sachdev for the wonderful illustrations throughout the book, they really helped bring Asha to life!
I really enjoyed Agent Asha: Operation Cyber Chop! I thought it was an interesting mix of fiction and information, and a great way to start explaining some of the issues around the internet to children. I think I would recommend picking up Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes first if you haven’t already read it.
About The Author…
A former lawyer, techie and school counsellor, Sophie is an award-winning author and Founder of Bright Little Labs – a media company using stories to teach kids aged 3-11 about technology and coding. Their products have been voted as the Independent’s Top Coding Toy three years in a row.
In 2016 Sophie partnered with Walker Books to publish the first in a series of three children’s novels, Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes. The book follows a girl who becomes a top secret child spy and uses her coding ingenuity to defeat power hungry tech giants. It combines big ideas and puzzling questions into twist-y, turn-y STEM-themed adventures that teach kids the foundational skills of computer science: logic, sequencing and critical thinking.
Bright Little Labs create immersive worlds for kids to explore. They have also partnered with Turner to make cartoons and games so they can continue children’s learning experiences across multiple platforms.
Sophie previously worked at Code Club, alongside Google and the Department For Education, to help introduce the new coding curriculum in primary schools. Sophie believes wholeheartedly in the power of creativity, toilet humour and stories to inspire the next generation.
She is an EDF Pulse Award 2017 winner, has been named one of Computer Weekly’s ‘Most influential women in UK IT’ 2018 and 2017, Barclays/Everywoman ‘Startup Founder of the Year’ 2017, the British Interactive Media Association’s ‘Innovator’ in 2017 and London Tech Week ‘Changemaker’ in 2018 for her work to inspire children into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). In 2019, she was featured in Computer Weekly’s Top 50 Most Influential Women in Tech shortlist.
Connect With Sophie
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As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?