Ada & Zangemann Cover

Ada & Zangemann

A Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream
by Matthias Kirschner; illustrated by Sandra Brandstätter
December 2022, 56 pp
4-Color; Hardcover

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The famous inventor Zangemann lives in a huge villa high above the city, constantly building and programming cool gadgets that everyone can’t wait to buy. But one day on a walk through town, something happens that changes the way he sees his own inventions—young people are using them in fun ways, and that make him furious.

As Zangemann begins controlling all of the world’s computerized devices to do exactly what he wants, a young hardware tinkerer named Ada learns that the power of computer code can set her and children everywhere free from the villainous inventor’s selfish plan. Through clever experiments with hardware and software, Ada and her friends show the world how important it is to be able to have control over the everyday technologies we use.

For readers ages 6 to 106, Ada & Zangemann will arouse children's interest in tinkering with hardware and software, and encourage their desire to shape their own technology.

Author Bio 

Matthias Kirschner is President of FSFE. Matthias helps other organizations, companies, and public administrations to understand how they can benefit from Free Software — which gives everybody the rights to use, study, share, and improve software — and how those rights help to support freedom of speech, press, and privacy. He serves on the advisory boards of different Free Software organizations, has been a consultant for public bodies and other committees, and regularly gives interviews, lectures, or participates in panel discussions about software freedom and the technical distribution of power in a democratic society.

Sandra Brandstätter is an illustrator, comic author, and character designer for animated films and series, including "Trudes Tier" on German public television and "Sendung mit der Maus." She is also the illustrator of many children's books and comics including Paula: Liebesbrief des Schreckens (Reprodukt Verlag/2016), Ben & Teo: Zwei sind einer zuviel (Beltz & Gelberg/ Author: Martin Baltscheit/2020), and L wie Liebe (Kindermannverlag Author Martin Baltscheit/2022).


"A rousing tale of self-reliance, community, and standing up to freedom is human freedom!"
—Cory Doctorow, Sci-Fi Author

"Introduces readers young and old to the power and peril of software. Behind it all is a backdrop of ethics of knowledge sharing upon which the arc of human history rides." 
—Vint Cerf, Computer Scientist and One of the Inventors of the Internet

"What a fun read! I recognize myself in Ada at many moments."
—Isabela Fernandes, Executive Director, The Tor project

“In this hopeful story Ada and her friends join a movement that started back in 1983. Their courageous adventure of software freedom and learning how technology works is a wonderful way to introduce young people everywhere to the joys of tinkering!” 
—Zoë Kooyman, Executive Director, Free Software Foundation

"I hope this will influence young people, and especially those who feel 'I can not do that' to take that first step into the community of Open Source software, hardware and culture."
—Jon "maddog" Hall, Board Chair, Linux Professional Institute

"A cute story which resonates with kids and adults alike. The freedom to use *your* hardware and software as you see fit is a core ingredient in any technological society."
—Andrew Lewman, Freedom and Privacy Advocate, Chairman of Each One Teach One

"Ada & Zangemann brings a highly topical, technically relevant subject to children."
—Catharina Maracke, Chair of the Board, Open Source Initiative

"A wonderful introduction to the power and influence of software. With a scarcity of literature for children on the topic, it serves as an elegant if not joyful solution to helping children and their parents understand the fundamental concepts of the freedom of expression, creation, collaboration and individual contribution free and open source software represents. The book is charming, the illustrations are great fun, the story is full of kindness and human connection."
—Deborah Bryant, Board Director Emeritus, Open Source Initiative

"It's a hit -- in the first week my kid has read this book 3 or 4 times already, and says this book explains my work on software freedom finally in a way that's easily understandable."
—Karen Sandler, Executive Director, Software Freedom Conservancy

"A truly lovable story with wonderful illustrations, to teach both kids and adults what free software and open standards mean. . . . Kirschner's book helps all of us who grow up in today's world to profoundly understand both the chances and opportunities, but also the risks and dangers of modern technology."
—Florian Effenberger, Executive Director, The Document Foundation

"Ada and Zangemann is not only a utopian and charming story about Free Software and computers, but it is one about self-empowerment and also about joy in technology. While the wonderful book is aimed at children and young people, it may well be an eye-opener for adults, too."
—Dr. Constanze Kurz, Spokesperson, Chaos Computer Club (CCC)

"Inspiring and empowering. An exceedingly relevant techno-fable for the makers, creators and inventors who will grow up to shape our future."
—Lee Hollman, Elementary School Technology Teacher

"A book that helps kids understand that the world doesn’t just happen, it is made, and that growing up is about figuring out how to pitch in and make it better."
—Matt Bailey, Civic Hacker and Open Government Advocate

"This is a clever fable that shows the importance of software freedom in relatable terms. It's great for children of all ages."
—Heather Meeker, Open Source Enthusiast

"I . . . appreciated how [Ada & Zangemann] took a traditional children's morality tale format and modernized it with practical hardware/software ethics in a relatable way, but not in a way that made you feel preached to or talked down to. Would recommend!"
—Kyle Rankin, Author and President of Purism

"The authors take a complex topic -- software freedom -- and distill it into a narrative that can be consumed by children of all ages. The focus on breaking the monopoly on creativity is especially apt for the post-Web-1.0 generation."
—Walter Bender, Founder of Sugar Labs

"A story that comes from the heart and with a message that had to be told. It's a thought provoking tale for adults as well. The story is especially notable for its capturing the nuance of the importance of user freedom in such an accessible way."
—David Marr, Open Source Attorney

"A delightful and imaginative exploration of a lot of deeper ideas. My 5-yr-old was drawn in, laughing at the silly parts and marveling at the computers, while I was reflecting on the messages about how easily we tolerate control and lack of freedom."
—John Goerzen, Open Source Developer

"I think that Ada & Zangemann is a great way to learn about software and tech while also being fun and relating to real world experiences."
—Zafyr Rahman, 10-year-old Tech Enthusiast

"The book made me think about technology. And how amazing it is. I'm gonna work to get the government to make a law that says nobody may use non-free software."
—Rowan Wolf, 6-year-old Software Freedom Activist

Extra Stuff 

Check out Matthias' interviews on The FLOSS Podcast and The I Heart STEAM Teacher Podcast.