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GEORGE’S SECRET KEY TO THE UNIVERSE by Lucy Hawking

GEORGE’S SECRET KEY TO THE UNIVERSE

From the George series, volume 1

By Lucy Hawking (Author) , Stephen Hawking (Author) , Christophe Galfard (Author) , Garry Parsons (Illustrator)

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4169-5462-0
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

George’s key—unsurprisingly—turns out to be a knowledge of physics, as the young protagonist of this blend of science fact and fiction proclaims after various adventures in space, in school, with a gang of bullies and an evil mad scientist. Raised in a computer-less house by eco-activist parents who feed him broccoli muffins, young George is delighted to learn that his new neighbor, Eric, is a scientist with a moody super-laptop named Cosmos that can both open doors to any charted part of the universe and also control time. George learns about the stellar life cycle, rides on a comet and then, thanks to a recent notion of physicist Hawking’s that black holes evaporate (over millions of years), helps to rescue Eric, who has been tricked into falling into a black hole by rival astrophysicist Graham Reeper. George finishes up with a rousing lecture to his peers; Reeper and the bullies depart in high dudgeon. Science lessons are embedded in the thin tale as well as presented in boxed asides. Considering the theme, and that two of the three writers are themselves trained scientists, it would have been nice if they’d gotten their basic facts right and not so blithely set aside the laws of physics whenever convenient to the story. Illustrated with line drawings or star photos on nearly every page and with a 100,000-copy first printing, it’s likely to sell well—but like many crossovers, it doesn’t show much respect for its target audience. (Fantasy. 10-12)