Book review of George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy and Stephen Hawking.
Audience: 8-12 years old – Review by Martin Burrett published in May 2014 Edition of UKEdMagazine. Click here to view in full.
Bringing the wonders of the universe to the children I teach has always been a favourite topic of mine. Sharing a glimmer of the immensity and incomprehensible complexity of the universe beyond the protective cocoon of the Earth’s biosphere has always excited me making for lively primary science lessons. Adult fiction is awash with tales of distant galaxies and futuristic adventures, but the science-fiction genre can be hit and miss for children’s literature but it can be difficult to find class texts for ‘spacey’ topics.
I stumbled upon George’s Secret Key to the Universe last year while teaching Year Five and the class loved it. The story follows a young boy on an adventure of discovery beyond the Earth, much to the disdain of his science-sceptic parents who have always tried to keep George away from the harms that they have seen science brings. But a mishap with a pig (yes, you did read that correctly) would change all that bringing George face to screen with the self-proclaimed ‘most advanced computer in the world’ and on an adventure, he could not have dreamt of.
The book, written by Lucy and Stephen Hawking, is evident that the accuracy of the science contained in the book was key to the writing process. The book contains wondrous images of the deep regions of our galaxy exploring the planets and other objects in the Solar System. While George’s newfound scientist friend does lapse into sizeable explanatory monologues on occasion these are infrequent and most of the science is woven naturally into the story.
With the help of the computer, George and his friends travel through a window out into the cold expanses of space exploring the solar system, riding on comets and even travelling into a black hole. Yet there is trouble ahead. George’s teacher is an evil scientist who wants to steal the computer for his own despicable ends with the help of the local school bullies. Only George, with the help of his new friends plus his knowledge of space and quick thinking, will save the day ensuring a safe future for the whole of humanity – perhaps winning a school science fair in the process.
[pullquote]This book does all the hard work for you as it is a superb hybrid of fiction and non-fiction.[/pullquote]For a teacher, this book does all the hard work for you as it is a superb hybrid of fiction and non-fiction. The fact files are great as a dip-in resource and the story is gripping.
*Prices correct at the time of publishing.
@ukedchat Read it to my Yr 5s last year as part of a space topic, we loved it.
— Simon King (@Si_J_King) August 31, 2014