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Book Review

The Little Schemer - 4th Edition
by Daniel P. Friedman, Matthias Felleisen

ISBN: 0262560992
Publisher: The MIT Press
Pages: 216

It really doesn’t look like any other book. No, it takes a different approach. The entire book is built as a dialog with the reader, using a questions-answers approach.
If I understand correctly, that’s pretty much like the format of this review? Yes, I tried to mimic the format, but I can’t do the original justice. The Little Schemer is astonishing funny to read and their usage of food in the code samples is a brilliant pedagogical move; it makes something rather abstract painless to learn.
And it really works? Oh yes! I found it very engaging and it helped me to stay focused by thinking the questions through before glancing at the answers right next to them.
Sounds quite interesting… Yes, and it is one of the reasons I bought this book; I was simply curios about the format.
And the other reason? I’m learning Common Lisp and this book is considered a classic in the Lisp community.
But the title indicates Scheme. Isn’t that a different dialect of Lisp? Well, the book doesn’t actually teach you a language.
? Instead it does something much harder and tremendously more valuable; it teaches you how to think recursively!
So, what you say is basically: The Little Schemer doesn’t really teach you a programming syntax; instead it gives you a new thought process? Exactly!
Sounds fantastic. Indeed it is. This is one of the best introductory texts I have ever read and I already bought the sequel The Seasoned Schemer.
You’re really in favour of this book! Would you recommend it to a wider audience than Lisp programmers? That’s right! I would recommend all programmers to read it; it’s an amazing piece of litterature.

Reviewed February 2006

©2005 Adam Petersen