SAFE READING - NO SPOILERS - hardcover edition
I have always had an overt admiration for Stephen Hawking having read some of his early work with Robin Penrose; they had such imaginatively scientific ideas. "Over the past thirty years, Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose have done more than anyone to further our understanding of the nature of gravitation and cosmology."--John Barrow, New Scientist (I am still puzzled by the lack of a knighthood for Professor Hawking.)
The book, their first, was co-written in 2007 with his journalist daughter, Lucy, a former PhD research student, Christophe Galfard, and illustrated by Garry Parsons. I bought it for my grandsons - three and one. I like to start early if there actually is an "early"! (The three year-old has already been to the Science and Natural History Museums twice. We are so fortunate to have such wonderful places to visit freely.)
Set in the context of a children's story with George, the science is covertly between and on the lines of the story; every so often, it appears overtly in special "grey sections" to distinguish them from the story itself in which scientific facts are given about, e.g. Jupiter, Comets, Matter, Exoplanets and so on. There are also four lengthy colour sections with plates of planets,rockets and other fascinating subjects. Throughout, the narrative is illustrated by b/w drawings of the stories events and characters.
Particularly interesting and enjoyable new features of this book (not in the previous one) are the eight sections on "The Latest Scientific Theories!" written by a wide range of eminent scientists, each ending in a simple first name, e.g. "Is There Anybody Out There?", Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society, Trinity College, University of Cambridge,signed "Martin". (Having recently attended one of his fascinating lectures, I can attest that his section, like the others, is worth reading. "Will some readers of this book walk on Mars? I hope so - indeed I think it is very likely that they will." [P 200]) These eight sections are printed on grey paper but they content is certainly not grey.
Learning, when it is enjoyable, happens without the painful cramming many seem to think it should be; engendering the ability to enjoy learning cannot be started too early, especially with enquiring minds. These books fit the bill very well.
I always read (non-classic) books bought for the grandchildren first and I have enjoyed reading this. It is typical of this enjoyable series by the father and daughter pair who have seen a niche and gap on the bookshelves.
AUDIOBOOK - Having waited impatiently for the audiobook, it has now arrived; the unabridged text is thoughtfully and sensitively read by James Goode and the "grey pages", i.e. the scientific information, by Lucy Hawking. I enjoy having control over my in-car listening and I studiously avoid - as much as possible - abridged CD versions of any book. Buying for the grandchildren is a great excuse to listen first and I have no doubt the well-travelled grandchildren will enjoy it as much as I have - when they are just a little older. The CDs even look exciting, dark blue with large, silver, curved lettering.
(Unfortunately, the five CD set is in the usual, three-sectioned, brittle and "explosive" plastic box which splinters and breaks almost as soon as it is picked up and opened. The first time it was opened, the top section parted company with the rest, the others followed soon afterwards and I am far from ham-fisted. It is a brilliantly conceived design produced in a plastic which does not match its original innovative design quality. I much prefer the solid cardboard containers with single paper sleeves for each CD; I have boxed sets with around ten CDs and they are usually thinner and a pleasure to use.)
HOWEVER, this is not a reflection on the written and spoken quality of this CD, both of which are excellent.
Recommended. Now what is their next book? Oh, yes, something about black-holes or was it the big-bang theory? I wonder if Amazon ...
on 10 April 2012
I am so pleased that I found this series. I recently bought this audiobook for my six and a half year old cousin, he has been studying Space as a project at school and we have recently seen evidence that he has Dyslexia (his Dad, older sister and our Granny have Dyslexia so we knew there was a chance he'd have it too). Because of the Dyslexia despite the fact that he loves being read books and is an active little boy there was very little that he would or could do to play by himself. Since he received this book he has been happily listening to the CD with the book on his own and has thoroughly enjoyed the story and the subtle learning. I love that despite being a story there are facts throughout, he has come out with some great ones and the adults are learning too. It is so great to have my cousin enjoying reading by himself and I have a happy Aunt and Uncle too.
Really hope that the Hawkings' write more of these great audiobooks and I will be getting the rest of the stories for upcoming celebrations.
on 22 September 2013
For all those looking to engage their boys in reading,I can't recommend this highly enough. Not that it's just for boys, far from it, my daughter has breezed through the series but i know that getting boys to read is an issue so for all those space loving kids out there, this is a must.