Blog Archives

George and the Unbreakable Code

This is the fourth instalment of the George children’s book series written by the Hawking father and daughter team. I don’t know about you, but occasionally I find that by the time you make it to book four of a series, the magic has dwindled, the characters have become boring and you can’t wait for someone to get to the point.

That didn’t happen here. In case you’re wondering, I managed to read this in an afternoon. Or rather, had to read it in one afternoon because I had a serious case of can’t-put-it-down.George and the Unbreakable Code - Book Cover

George and Annie are on half term break, and like we can all remember from when we were at school, it could get a bit dull. Until suddenly many things start to happen in quick succession. Money being shot out of cash machines, free airplane flights, no electricity and a whole lot more, all of which seems to be based on a worldwide computer system failure. Whilst Eric has been summoned to Downing Street to help find out what on earth is going, George and Annie must work on Annie’s half term project about the chemistry of life itself, with Cosmic (the super super-computer) to help them. But Cosmic seems to be acting up and causing trouble. Very quickly, they realise that figuring out what’s going on is down to them, and only them.

Just as thrilling a book as all the ones before it, ‘George and the Unbreakable Code’ also delves deeper and covers topics and ideas that the intended readers might not normally think about. Lucy and Stephen Hawking have introduced the idea of learning disabilities, destabilisation of social order and looting. But they also brought up the concepts of strong friendships, self-sustainability and trust. Bringing all of these together has added an extra layer to the book, hopefully passing on some wisdom to the reader without them noticing.

And as with the other books, the entire adventure is inundated with fact pages about everything from Enceladus to Carbon, from wartime computing to Boltzmann Brains (not to be confused with one of the characters, Boltzmann Brian who is absolutely wonderful!). There are also the usual mini-essays written by leading scientists and pages of pictures relevant to the story. There’s even a section on keeping safe on the internet, which is always good to drum home, even when you’re old and (meant to be) wise!

Overall, a brilliant book as always brought from the fabulous Hawking duo. May they keep educating us with these intelligently written characters.

Interview with Lucy Hawking

Lucy Hawking It has taken a while – because there was some exciting book news which needed clearing –  but I have finally published my January interview with Lucy Hawking!! Lucy is the author of the popular children’s book series about George.

So if you want to know all about Lucy not remembering meeting President Obama, why there’s a pig on the first page of book one, or how to convince Stephen Hawking to do something, then roll up, roll up, and read all about it!

George

The words exciting, page-turning and inspiring don’t even begin to describe the series of children’s books by Lucy Hawking and her father Stephen.
Together they take a simple story and weave physics into it, and occasionally some rather complex physics, and some incredible writing. It was very difficult to put down any of the three books, and I found myself just pushing ahead because I wanted, wanted, to know what was going to happen next. I kept thinking to myself ‘How are they going to get out of this?!’.

We meet George in George’s Secret Key to the Universe. George is an ordinary boy, apart from the fact that he has eco-warrior parents and a pet pig called Freddy. But even that comes to an end when he meets the new next door neighbours: Eric, his daughter Annie and their mysterious supercomputer Cosmos.

Now, Cosmos is no ordinary supercomputer, he (yes ‘he’, the computer has a personality, a brilliant personality) can transport you across space to other planets and galaxies. But as always in any fantastic story, there is an evil villain who wants to steal Cosmos and use him for his own purposes, and he puts Eric in danger!!

It continues in a similar fashion with the next two books, but they get more and more exciting. In George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt we take a trip to Florida, USA, where someone leaves clues that force George and Annie to travel around the Solar System and beyond to stop the Earth being destroyed! And in the latest instalment, George and the Big Bang, Eric’s life is again endangered and George and Annie must do everything they can to stop a dark and dangerous society hell-bent on stopping the LHC from powering up. But who can they trust…?

The books also contain pages and pages of additional facts, dotted throughout the story, which gives well explained descriptions of phenomena in physics and astronomy. And there are tons of glossy, full colour pictures to show examples of things mentioned, like images of the Moon and other galaxies. So at the same time as reading the story, you can learn about the universe. Almost osmosis like!

But not only do these books present physics in a simple format, they also explain the ethics of scientific research, and discuss the public perception of physics and the effect it has. Because George’s parents are eco-warriors, he has the gift of insight of how the application and use of physics can be beneficial to saving the Earth.
All of these sides to the books I think is what makes them so inspirational. If I wasn’t already doing my degree course, I think I would almost be convinced to switch right now!!

P.S I did find it quite funny that I read George and the Big Bang the day after the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Therefore making a vital moment of the book not possible to work anymore!! But that’s just me nitpicking.