George and the Big Bang by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking

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George and the Big Bang by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The third in this series, which by following the Muppets with Pigs in Space shows the law of diminishing returns hit our young inter-galactic travellers.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Corgi Children's
ISBN: 9780552559621

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John Lloyd's First Rule of the Universe is that it must contain three things – entropy, trouble, and mis-sold PPI claim adverts. However this book only contains one of those – trouble. Eric is using the Large Hadron Collider to delve into the secrets of the universe and the first micro-seconds of its existence, but he has trouble in the shape of Luddite people who think his experiment will cause the end of our solar system. He has his super-computer, Cosmos, which is able to transport him and his daughter Annie and the kid next door, our hero George, anywhere they desire throughout the universe, but there's only trouble when two of them are discovered larking about on the moon. And, as we've come to expect – this being the closing book of a trilogy – there is an evil scientist somewhere who is just intending to cause a different kind of trouble – making the big bang in the title something you might not have initially expected.

This then closes the series of three adventures for George and his friends. Perhaps they have the potential to return, but I think entropy - the rule that states that everything returns from an exotic to a basic, and from an energised to an energy-less state, has started to hit. For some reason there is a particular brand of clumsiness at play here – the book starts off by showing off Cosmos's powers by teleporting a pet pig, of all things. More trouble is had from Annie entering the world of having boyfriends, and hers is a unique kind who can skate-board, achieve black belt in karate, and who can absorb and understand the Inverse Shroedinger Trap at the drop of a hat.

Elsewhere, however, despite the plot concerning evil scientists against heroic, intelligent and inquisitive people being a bit more blunt than before, the book follows on very nicely in the ethos of the series – the empathy-inspiring characters and drama one guesses are the result of Lucy's work, and the child-friendly yet never patronisingly dumbed-down physics are courtesy of her dad Stephen 'Friend of the Paralympics' Hawking. These are in the form of box-out asides and short essays, and lead us gently from the existence of the moon right up (or down) to the quantum level. Again there are grand (false-colour) images of the universe about us, and the illustrator provides us with nicely broken up pages, and has a great, clear style much more to my taste than many children's books that come my way.

Yet, despite the successful formula being met in several nice, commendable ways, this title also fails to meet the standards of what's gone before. Too much of it is earth-bound, and however fascinating the largest experiment in the world might be, sending George and Annie there is not the same as leaving them with threats to their life elsewhere in the galaxy. Making the plot revolve around evil humans leaves too little room for the wonders of the Milky Way we might otherwise have got – and seeing as no-one but Cosmos knows where the pig has ended up, it might have put in more air-miles than our heroes for once. The series has at times been a great reminder of how Reithian edutainment can still have a place on the bookshelves of our young friends, but the lesson of how important scientific progress is that is given here rests more clunkily than the remainder of the cycle, so this is much more for those already converted – to physics and to the series – than for those newcomers out there.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

We previously enjoyed the second book in the series. Elsewhere, books such as WCS Ultimate Adventure: Mars! (Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure) by David Borgenicht proffer more engagement with a sci-fi adventure, while still being educational.

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Buy George and the Big Bang by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy George and the Big Bang by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking at


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