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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars

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on 22 June 1999
This is an excellent book, and my understanding of recursion was greatly enhanced. I am going to use Scheme in a programming class next year, and this was just the introduction I needed. But even though this book is thin and is illustrated in a cute way, the last couple chapters of this book are very difficult. The day I finished reading it, I went to the doctor and my blood pressure was up a good deal, because of the brain-wracking I undertook while reading it (mainly the ninth, next to last chapter). It's a classic, and you don't actually need a Scheme interpreter to use it. I didn't use one, though I made sure to do the exercises on paper, and checked them carefully. If you get this book, prepare for quite a (brutal) mind stretcher.
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on 20 August 2008
This is an excellent tutorial - although don't buy it if you require a reference work.

As for complaints that it is highly cryptic text: Well, I disagree - everything is clearly and logically presented and terms are introduced (yes - car, cdr, cons and lambda are all defined in the opening chapters). To say they are not seems to be evidence of at least one reviewer not paying attention!

Perhaps the best aspect of this book is the way it trains your movement of thought through code in the recursive way needed to fully grok Scheme and other LISP like languages.
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on 1 June 2017
An idiosyncratic introduction to the programming language lisp (aka scheme), based on the "Spanish Inquisition" theory of pedagogy, to wit:- make the reader try and work out what the language does by recording a series of questions and answers. Take five pages to describe features that you could list out in half a page. Start with a list of Laws that aren't explained at all and then state that you have to understand everything in detail before you proceed. Sorry, now I understand why lisp has a "Reputation"... not my cup of tea...
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VINE VOICEon 12 January 2010
Some of the other reviews seem to miss the point. Despite the title this is NOT a tutorial in Scheme, it simply uses Scheme as a teaching language. What it is really doing is teaching recursion and some of the key principles of functional programming. It starts off gently but the last third in particular is mind bending and took me three runs at it to really grasp the points. But at the end of the book I still couldn't write a useful program in Scheme, that's not the book's purpose. So if you want to learn Scheme try the author's other book "How to Design Programs" (available online or in paper), it's a much more conventional, and less challenging book. This book is good and does what it sets out to do, but that's not to teach Scheme. If you want to understand functional programming read this book (and its sequel).
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on 17 May 2011
What is the style of the book?
Short questions followed by answers.

Do you have to try to answer the questions before you read the answers?
Not necessarily all the time, but it is important you understand each question and answer before proceeding, Some of the time I used a piece of paper to hide the answers. The book starts off slow, but gets very hard towards the end. If you lose the thread of the argument, you must backtrack and pick it up again.

Is the book patronising?
I can see that some people might find the question-answer style and the drawings of elephants irritating, but I find them charming.

I want a manual on scheme. Is this the book for me?
This is the right book for you to read, but it is not a manual on scheme.

Who else ought to read the book?
Anyone interested in programming, in any language. Anyone who likes to think hard.

Who ought not to read the book?
Anyone on a diet. (The authors are obsessed with food.) Anyone who does not relish a challenge.

Is it the best book available on functional programming?
I have not read all of them, so cannot say, but it is the best textbook I have read on any subject.
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on 26 August 2012
The style of the book - a series of questions and answers, could only work if the author has a perfect grasp of the subject, a clear plan of how to impart it and a gift for making the complex accessible. It works beautifully. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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on 19 December 2008
I bought this book to supplement the excellent free books online e.g. SICP, Teach yourself Scheme in Fixnum Days, TSPLv3. It contains some excellent lessons in functional programming - The Commandments.

Unfortunately you have to read through a silly childish conversational style between the master and the student. The points are well illustrated but it must be aimed at school children. I'm sure the three volumes 'The Little Schemer', 'The Seasoned Schemer' and 'The Reasoned Schemer' could have been rolled into one useful book, had the authors adopted a more traditional style.
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on 20 September 2009
This book is completly different it gives you content in question and answer format and shapes your mind while you are answering to those.
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on 30 October 2016
Such a classic. It's responsible for my career choices to date: I'm an engineer currently working with functional programming languages.
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on 2 May 2015
I've placed this book #4 in my Top 100 Programming, Computer and Science books list:


The Little Schemer teaches you a little bit of LISP in the most fun style ever. The book is a dialogue between you and the authors about hundreds of tiny Scheme programs and it teaches you to think recursively. This book will make you think and will stretch your mind a little. It's one of the most fun programming books ever written. Whenever I'm bored, I pick it up and do a few problems.

I've gone through this book at least 5 times. Check out this photo that I just took of all the notes that I've made while reading it and the Seasoned/Reasoned Schemers [...]. That is a lot of hours spent with these books. I enjoyed this book a lot and I copied out all the fun code examples and put them on GitHub [...], and I also wrote a blog post about deriving y-combinator based on one of the chapters in this book [...].
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