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on 5 November 2014
Excellent quality
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on 14 July 2015
Bought for my 9 year old grandson and he loves it. A good story with a great bit of science thrown in so educational too. Pleased with this book and will definitely be buying the other books in this series.
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Remember the 1950's TV show "Watch Mr. Wizard"? Kids visited Mr. Wizard in his home lab and he demonstrated various scientific principles and the science behind ordinary objects. It was great educational TV, it had millions of viewers and associated Mr. Wizard science clubs, it gave rise to the tag line "Gee, Mr. Wizard!", and it probably inspired the Professor Proton character so dear to Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory". But, it would have made a blah book.

The question for me here, notwithstanding the attraction of Stephen and Lucy Hawking's involvement in the project, was whether this book would work as both a substantial introduction to science topics and as a good fictional adventure. I'm happy to report that, at least for me, this book actually works on both levels.

Our hero George has a bit of an edgy relationship to his parents' back-to-nature anti-tech lifestyle, which is an interesting element of the book. George is thrilled when his new neighbors turn out to be an equally edgy girl and her talky scientist Dr.Wizard dad. The book starts like a visit to the lab, but very soon adventure plot elements enter the picture, and before you know it we're involved with a super computer, space travel, black holes and an amazing range of issues related to physics and cosmology.

This is complemented by a portfolio of color photo plates, sidebars, drawings and illustrations. Not too many to get in the way, but enough to add detail, color and interest. There's an acknowledgment at the end of the book of Christophe Galfard, a Hawking associate who vetted the science and made sure it was all current and intelligible, and that just shows the care that went in to making this, if not authoritative, at least correct from the science point of view.

While some of the narrative can be a bit clunky, and some of the story choices are a bit idiosyncratic, (odd villain, some monologuing dialogue, a kind of "Dr. Who" random improv vibe), and parts of the plot require a fantasy instead of scientific tweak to work, the upshot is that this book works as a kid space adventure, it works as a kid buddy adventure, and it works as a tasty science and physics sampler. That's a great and entertaining accomplishment.
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on 26 August 2017
This book was okay but not great. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it did defy my expectations in one key way and so that alone was enough for me to give it a 4/5. The thing that really stood out to me was the fact that it mixed flat-out fiction with a blend of science that should bring physics to life to little kids.

In fact, you could almost split the book into two separate releases, but they do work well when combined together. The first of those is the non-fiction stuff, including the descriptions of each of the planets in the solar system and some information on their orbits, gravity and other attributes. The good thing about this is that it also includes some high-quality photography that helps to blow your mind with the sheer size and scale of space.

The second aspect of this book is the fictional part, which follows the story of a boy called George who makes friends with someone whose father owns a supercomputer called Cosmos. The cool thing about Cosmos is that it can take George and the gang anywhere they want to in space, a bit like a cross between a computer and the Tardis. But there are people who want to take advantage of it, and George finds this out to his cost.

Overall, there’s nothing necessarily revolutionary about this book, but it is decent enough – and it’s sure to put a small on your face, especially if you have kids who are into science. The illustrations are nicely done, too. They don’t feel like an afterthought, but rather like a vital part of the book. I’m glad that it’s a part of my collection.
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on 5 October 2008
I picked this book up to read as part of a Book Chain I was doing as an illustration for pupils in a P4-7 Class(Scotland) and enjoyed this very much. The pace of the story is fast and there are wonderful fact boxes and photographs of space phenomena like comets, planets and all sorts of spacey things! There's also a great Poster of the Solar System. What a novel way to introduce learning about Space!
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on 2 November 2007
My son, who has just turned 8, literally devoured this book from cover to cover in the space of about a week during his half term holiday. This might not be amazing to some people but he has never before read a story book himself, having the attention span of a gnat, he usually prefers information books and comics. So I was delighted when he chose this book for himself and every night he went to bed to read the next exciting chapter of this book. This book obviously ticked all the right boxes for him, enough of a story to keep the characters alive, with a great smattering of facts and figures about space, the universe, planets etc and lots of other things to capture the imagination of a fact-hungry 8 year old !
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on 7 March 2010
My 9 year old is very resistant to books - although a good reader he'd rather be on the computer! - but this book grabbed his attention right from the start. The story was simple but well constructed and full of interesting details with delightful characters that my son, who has mild ASD, could understand. The eponymous hero is bright and curious, constantly asking questions (just like my boy!) and all his questions are answered clearly, concisely and simply, without talking down to him.

Since reading the book, and it's follow on volume, my son now has enormous enthusiasm for information about the universe and our place in it and also seems to have begun to understand that the motivation of characters in books and people in real life should be deciphered not just from their exact words but also from their intonation, past behaviour and subsequent actions.

At the age of three he asked me "What is above the sky?" and now someone has been able to explain both the universe and the nature of friendship to him. I really can't praise this book enough!! Thank you, Lucy!
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on 2 June 2017
The favourite fiction book of my 10 year old granddaughter..... we read together... and have read many of the age appropriate 'recommended reads' and this is by far the best.... an understandable text... amusing in parts... tension and great ending.... accompanied by facts about the universe and informative diagrams and photographs.
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on 4 October 2008
My 11 year old son had never really enjoyed a book since he outgrew Horrid Henry. He kept asking for George's Secret Key to the Universe, I think mainly because it has his name in the title. We were convinced he'd never get through it but finally caved in and bought it and he absolutely loved it. When we went to say good night to him he always had more exciting facts for us. We're now struggling to find another book he'll read as enthusiastically!
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on 13 April 2008
My son is 9 and has devoted his life to crappy tv cartoons, but this book had him captured and the moment he finished it, he started reading it again. Unfortunately he will now have to wait until October 08 for the next one, I was hoping there was a busload of Hawkins' childrens book out there, but sadly not yet. I will buy them all when they are published! Splendid. 5 stars for capturing the attention of the new nano-second attention span generation.
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