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STAY CURIOUS! by Kathleen Krull


A Brief History of Stephen Hawking

by Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer ; illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-399-55028-7
Publisher: Crown

A glance at the life of English theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking

Growing up in a bookish family, Stephen was always asking questions. At 12, he pondered the origin of the universe. At 17, he attended Oxford University, where he began losing control of his body. At 21, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neuromuscular disease, and given two years to live. Though his condition deteriorated, eventually requiring him to use a wheelchair and an augmentative communication device, he defied his grim prognosis by decades. In 1974, his discovery that black holes leaked radiation earned him international acclaim and led him to write the bestselling A Brief History of Time. Active and inquisitive until his death at 76, he researched life on other planets and advocated for disability rights. Kulikov’s scratchy illustrations cleverly acknowledge Hawking’s research, turning such everyday objects as a spinning LP and spilled tea into eye-catching black holes. However, the authors’ lack of specificity blurs Hawking’s accomplishments; for instance, his “important university job once held by genius scientist Isaac Newton”—Cambridge University’s prestigious Lucasian Professor of Mathematics position—is unnamed. Such down-to-earth details as Hawking’s family, humor, and penchant for parties are unfortunately eclipsed by cloying disability clichés declaring him “a triumphant life force, almost otherworldly,” whose brilliant mind was “trapped within his powerless body.” Kulikov depicts a seemingly all-white cast.

Though well-meaning, this vague profile doesn't quite capture either Hawking's groundbreaking career or his full humanity.

(author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)