Manu Mehrotra and Ambika Mohan
UNLOCKING THE UNIVERSE by Stephen Hawking & Lucy Hawking Penguin Random House, 2020, 413 pp., 599.00
November 2020, volume 44, No 11

A compendium of write-ups related to the earth and the universe, compiled by Stephen Hawking and his daughter, Lucy Hawking, is most suitable for middle-school children and teenagers. The key authors and compilers are Stephen Hawking and his daughter, Lucy Hawking. Other researchers and specialists in their respective fields have contributed different sections, providing this unique opportunity for readers to understand first-hand from the investigators themselves. Creating opportunities like this, that Lucy Hawking herself had as a child, has been her purpose with this and some previous books, like the George series.

The book is appealing enough to attract young readers towards a non-fiction. Once they begin reading, then it is informative enough to keep them engaged and have a broad overview of key concepts and theories right from origin of the universe, life on earth, possibility of life on other planets and current issues like climate change and use of robots!

Structurally too, the book allows for easy research and referencing for each topic. Along with a glossary and index, some sections where a new concept or theory is introduced, like the concept of black holes, there are leading markers in the text itself, prompting the reader to refer to certain pages for more information or debate related to that topic. This is a wonderful design strategy, especially since the book is for children and young adults, breaking the monotony and teaching them how to find content. This is in fact essential, as the book is so full of information, facts and figures (at some points one feels overwhelmed and bored with the series of numbers and tends to skip the section—like the one on planets and moons of our solar system!). An interested or curious child, when learning about a certain topic, may come back to this book and again read up all the relevant sections and pages, thus utilizing this book fully.

Continue reading this review