Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

George's Secret Key to the Universe

George's Secret Key to the Universe

Stephen Hawking, Lucy Hawking
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007   ISBN: 978-1416954620

George's pet pig, Freddy, has escaped, and George is doing his best not to let on to his parents that the pig has, once again, done a disappearing act. Instead, George sets off in hot pursuit of his pet, hoping that he will find the large animal before his parents realize that Freddy is gone. George finally finds Freddy in the kitchen of the house next door. The pig is happily drinking grape soda, which a very odd girl called Annie gave him. George learns that Annie, whom Freddy has never seen before, is the daughter Eric, a very likable scientist. In addition to being a thoroughly nice man,  Eric has Cosmos, "the most powerful computer in the world." Cosmos can not only do all the things that regular computers can do; he can also open doorways into space, and George is in awe of the fabulous - and highly opinionated - machine.

The next day George ends up at Annie's house again, and this time she and George take a remarkable trip into space, courtesy of Cosmos. During the trip George rides on a comet, and he is even able to bring home a space rock. Eric is not best pleased that George and Annie went into space alone, but he forgives them eventually.

George sincerely hopes that Eric will be willing to help him with his science competition talk. If George wins the competition, he will get a computer, something that he longs for and that his parents refuse to buy for him. They think that science and technology are evil, and they try to have as little to do with such things as possible.

What George and his new friends don't know is that someone not too far away is determined to harm Eric and steal Cosmos.

In this wonderful book Lucy and Stephen Hawking not only tell a delightful story complete with a hero, a talking computer, and several colorful villains. They also find a way to make physics, astronomy, environmentalism, and even philosophy accessible to children. They show children how fascinating science is, and how vital it is for all of us to understand and use science to help us care for and protect our wonderful planet.

In addition to the story, the authors have included informative articles in which they explain and discuss some of the scientific matters that are mentioned in the book. To top things off, readers will also find four sections that are full of fabulous photographs showing space and the planets.