Lucy Hawking is a great speaker. I managed to attend a talk by her that was aimed at children 8-12 but was interesting for an adult as well. It is not easy to boil the immense ideas of physics and the nature of the universe down in to chunks that children can understand. After listening to Lucy Hawking speak I went straight out and bought this book. I have spent a couple of weeks readying a couple of chapters a night to my five year old boy. The fiction part of this this book is simple enough for a five year old to understand and I’d say that a 9-10yr old could read it themselves with very little effort. The characters are interesting simple enough for a small child to understand without being so one dimensional that an adult would be instantly turned off. In terms of the story alone this is an interesting book for children.
It isn’t just a science fiction story though. In the first couple of chapters there is a simple experiment to show the transfer of electrical charge. As soon as we read that bit my boy insisted we get up and try it out ourselves. He didn’t understand what was going on, but he was able to replicate the experiment and see the result. From that point on he knew that science was cool and was generally enthralled by the book. Throughout the book there are fact pages where some of the numbers are just staggering and very difficult for a child to comprehend. My favourite one was the comparative size of the plants and a picture of the sun. Even my 5yr old marveled at how the sun was so big it didn’t even fit on the page. There are also some really cool photos in this book. The one of Mars taken from the Rover in particular caused my boy to wonder why it was red. Thankfully it was accompanied by an easily explainable reason for that very point.
There is a big question at the heart of this book though. What happens if you get sucked in to a black hole and can you ever escape?
Any book that engages a 5yr old to think and also look out the window with a sense of wonder is a great thing in my book. I’d highly recommend this book.