A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Purports to teach the basics of astronomy and physics, but in the fiction parts, the laws of science are disregarded.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's nothing objectionable here, and much to learn. But some kids may need help sorting facts from fiction -- on the fiction side, the authors have made the surprising choice to ignore the rules of science. Kids may be confused.
Is It Any Good?
Stephen Hawking may be a genius at physics, but he has a lot to learn about children's books. GEORGE'S SECRET KEY TO THE UNIVERSE is an example of what you get when someone decides to write for children because, after all, how hard can it be? It also exemplifies the dangers of trying to combine teaching with storytelling: What you often end up with is a preachy, didactic story told in a condescending tone with stereotypical characters and a plot that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
The nonfiction parts are fine: good information, clearly told, with some spectacular photos. But surprisingly, much of the fictional story isn't scientifically accurate. This might be forgivable in straight sci-fi or fantasy (though even there kids like to have things make sense), but in a book that purports to teach the basics of astronomy and physics, it's just confusing -- how are young readers to know what's true, what's theoretical, and what's just plain nonsense?
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