George's Secret Key to the Universe (英語) ハードカバー – 2007/10/23
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Stephen Hawking, author of the multi-million copy bestselling A Brief History of Time, and his daughter Lucy explain the universe to readers of all ages. George's parents, who have always been wary of technology, warn him about their new neighbors: Eric is a scientist and his daughter, Annie, seems to be following in his footsteps. But when George befriends them and Cosmos, their super-computer, he finds himself on a wildly fun adventure, while learning about physics, time, and the universe. With Cosmos's help, he can travel to other planets and a black hole. But what would happen if the wrong people got their hands on Cosmos? George, Annie, and Eric aren't about to find out, and what ensues is a funny adventure that clearly explains the mysteries of science. Garry Parsons' energetic illustrations add humor and interest, and his scientific drawings add clarity; there are also eight 4-page full-color inserts of scientific photos.
"The book gets points for tackling the recurrent tension between environmentalism and science, but it succeeds first and foremost as a good old-fashioned adventure tale." (Natural History)
*"What better way to interest young readers in science...than for one of the world's most renowned theoretical physicists to put his subect at the center of a children's book?...A true beginnger's guide to A Brief History of Time." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
"[An] entertaining read-aloud that integrates well-presented scientific facts and theories within a charmingly illustrated chapter book." (Booklist)
"A relief for the science-deficient parent in need of a little extra help." (New York Magazine)
Update: finished this book, and started on the next one in the series! She loved it and begged to read it every day!
The question for me here, notwithstanding the attraction of Stephen and Lucy Hawking's involvement in the project, was whether this book would work as both a substantial introduction to science topics and as a good fictional adventure. I'm happy to report that, at least for me, this book actually works on both levels.
Our hero George has a bit of an edgy relationship to his parents' back-to-nature anti-tech lifestyle, which is an interesting element of the book. George is thrilled when his new neighbors turn out to be an equally edgy girl and her talky scientist Dr.Wizard dad. The book starts like a visit to the lab, but very soon adventure plot elements enter the picture, and before you know it we're involved with a super computer, space travel, black holes and an amazing range of issues related to physics and cosmology.
This is complemented by a portfolio of color photo plates, sidebars, drawings and illustrations. Not too many to get in the way, but enough to add detail, color and interest. There's an acknowledgment at the end of the book of Christophe Galfard, a Hawking associate who vetted the science and made sure it was all current and intelligible, and that just shows the care that went in to making this, if not authoritative, at least correct from the science point of view.
While some of the narrative can be a bit clunky, and some of the story choices are a bit idiosyncratic, (odd villain, some monologuing dialogue, a kind of "Dr. Who" random improv vibe), and parts of the plot require a fantasy instead of scientific tweak to work, the upshot is that this book works as a kid space adventure, it works as a kid buddy adventure, and it works as a tasty science and physics sampler. That's a great and entertaining accomplishment.
The book "George's Secret Key To The Universe" is factually and beautifully written and is the first of the 3 books. My sincere thanks to
Dr. Hawking and Lucy Hawking.