Scratch is a great way to introduce children to computer programming, and the Scratch 2.0 Game Development Hotshot is a great starting point for doing so. It is a nice and lengthy text with exhaustive examples of everything that a learner would need to figure out how to do almost anything they need to do when working with Scratch.
This book is written well in a process that goes from simple to complex; anyone using it still needs a basic amount of familiarity with computers and at times the book suggests using external programs in addition to Scratch. Fortunately, the book lists free, easy-to-use programs in addition to the commercial software it suggests, so it remains accessible to educators and parents on a tight budget who don’t already have access to programs like Photoshop.
There is a small conflict in this guidebook between the complexity of programming and the need to be clearly communicative, and I feel that it did a very good job of being clear. I am not particularly proficient with Scratch, though I have worked with other alternatives extensively, but it seemed to use a very wide range of tools within the Scratch platform to accomplish its objectives, which should help learners utilize emergent strategies on their own.
The inclusion of many well-chosen code excerpts and diagrams within the book is done perfectly, and there is little left to be desired by the helpful images. For more advanced users, some of these will be redundant, but given Scratch’s nature as an incredibly accessible tool this could help computer novices or young children and they do not become particularly burdensome for a reader.
The projects contained in the book represent a variety of game genres, and are presented in an order of increasing complexity. Most of the lessons are intended to teach specific lessons, and the included code samples make it easy to jump between the concepts being learned, allowing students who already have a background in Scratch to study only the things that they need to learn.
I don’t have simple praise for the book, however. There are some pressing issues, such as cases where functionality isn’t really closely acknowledged or is only examined once; students need a certain degree of repetition and, like most guide books, only one way is examined to do most of the things in the example projects. While this isn’t necessarily something that is horrible, it does mean that you will need to make sure that someone trained using the book has it available for at least a while after finishing all the courses, so that they can go back and get a refresher on the things they may have missed throughout.
As a future educator, and a self-taught programmer, I feel that this book is a great starting point to the world of programming and game design, and I would recommend it without any reservations.
Disclaimer: I got a digital reviewer copy of this book from Packt. I was not and will not be financially compensated for writing this review, nor was I pressured to write a positive review.