Review of Stay Curious!: A Brief History of Stephen Hawking

Stay Curious!: A Brief History of Stephen Hawking
by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer; illus. by Boris Kulikov
Primary, Intermediate    Crown    40 pp.    g
9/20    978-0-399-55028-7    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-399-55029-4    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-399-55030-0    $10.99

Physicist Stephen Hawking (1942–2018) was brilliant and iconoclastic from the get-go: as a child, he invented fiendishly complicated board games and helped to create an early computer; at Oxford, he sailed through his classes without studying and “only bought textbooks to check them for mistakes.” A diagnosis of ALS at age twenty-one was a devastating blow but gave him a focus: “to travel through the universe in [his] mind and try to visualize the ways in which it worked.” Despite being given only two years to live, he married, had children, taught, made breakthrough discoveries about black holes, wrote the bestselling A Brief History of Time — and lived until he was seventy-six. Krull and Brewer’s text pulls readers in with fascinating information, memorable anecdotes, and (from the subtitle on) appropriate humor (a “daredevil” wheelchair driver, Hawking was rumored to intentionally drive over disliked people’s feet, a rumor he denied. “And I’ll run over anyone who repeats it”). Kulikov’s mixed-media illustrations are multifaceted and inventive, containing visual references that are sometimes clever, sometimes powerful (as when the newly diagnosed Hawking spends hours listening to opera, and the phonograph record looks like a black hole). A deep celestial blue recurs throughout, almost always glowing with stars and planets. Appended with an authors’ note, sources for quotations, and a reading list.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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