Code 7: Cracking the Code for an Epic Life
by Bryan R. Johnson
Candy Wrapper, Inc.

"'Never give up. Never give in.' . . . There you are. . . . [I]f you don't give up, anything is possible."

Flint Hill Elementary School is the setting for seven stories of character building and developing self-awareness for seven students. Jefferson, an artist who is in the process of painting a mural, demonstrates belief in himself. Slick and initially dishonest Sebastian learns a lesson in decency. Genevieve, already an animal lover and potential veterinarian, experiences object lessons in caring. Alec's lesson is in responsibility, as he learns the importance of cleaning his room. Talmadge is on a quest with his father as they pursue a fish who has eluded the latter for twenty years. Talmadge's lesson is perseverance, as he and his father motivate each other and ultimately learn unexpected lessons. Samantha's virtue is courage, as she deals with a bully who is trying to stop her from auditioning for a school play. The novice filmmaker Kaitlyn's ability is creativity, as she learns while attempting to make a short movie.

The stories are brief and uncomplicated, perfectly suited for the intended middle-grade readership. The characters are entertaining and believable, and the stories themselves seem almost like a satisfying blending of Aesop's Fables with Sesame Street and other educational programs for children. The direct approach to the lessons is leavened by the school and home environments. The characters experience their stories in familiar environments with familiar people, such as their parents, teachers, and fellow students. The children in the book tie all the chapters and lessons together at the end by declaring themselves a team for living an epic life. Honesty, caring, self-worth, responsibility, perseverance, courage, and the recognition and use of talent are the keys.

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