Summer Review Medley: George’s Secret Key, Little Quack, and the Flopsy Bunnies

School’s out and we’d rather be outside. While that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped reading, it does mean I don’t want to spend a lot of time reviewing. Naturally, I feel guilty about that, so I’m going to experiment with giving you three quick hits on books that we’ve enjoyed over the years, rather than one long review.

George’s Secret Key to the Universe
By Lucy & Stephen Hawking
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2007

The Five-Year-Old and her father love this book. I’m not as sold on it, mostly because The Five-Year-Old makes me skip all the scary bits. My thought is, if there’s bits that are too scary, the book needs to wait. On the other hand, The Five-Year-Old’s totally obsessed with all things cosmological, largely thanks to this book and its sequels. So there’s that.

Update: George’s Secret Key really does deserve a longer review. In the comments below, you’ll find a few more thoughts on this book, including why I wish I had waited to read it until The Five-Year-Old was a bit closer to the book’s recommended age of 8 and up.

Little Quack
By Lauren Thompson
Illustrated by Derek Anderson
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2003

Super cute. The Five-Year-Old loves the pictures. A good book for kids who are just starting to learn to add, as it has some elementary math (1+1=2, 1+1+1=3, etc) built into the story line.

The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies
By Beatrix Potter
Warne, 2002 (First published 1909)

You know, I remain somewhat surprised at the casual violence in these classic stories. In The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Mrs. Rabbit mentions that Mrs. McGregor put Peter’s dad into a pie. In the The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, Mrs. McGregor plans to skin the young Flopsies to make a coat. Both seem tame, though, when compared to The Fierce Bad Rabbit. I love these books, but every time I read them I am reminded that childhood is more sugar-coated now than it used to be.

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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4 Responses to Summer Review Medley: George’s Secret Key, Little Quack, and the Flopsy Bunnies

  1. ZoeZ says:

    I’m completely with you on wanting to be outdoors not stuck in front of a computer (although we’ve still two more weeks of school here). I’d love to know more, though, about what your five year old finds scary – this is a book that I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of for a while so it would be good to know a little more.

    Like

    • Shala Howell says:

      Yeah, George’s Secret Key really does deserve a longer review. Here’s the scoop. The book is structured as part story, part kid-friendly cosmology lecture. Each chapter has at least one page devoted to discussing a topic in depth, such as is it really possible to escape from a black hole and if so, how would that work?

      The Five-Year-Old loved those lecture pages. What bothered her was the conflict. She was going through a stage where any mention of a bad guy or even just normally good kids doing bad things made her super nervous and extremely agitated. So Dr. Reaper, the evil science teacher, scared her, as did the posse of boys Dr. Reaper recruited to help him carry out his nefarious schemes. The scenes with Reaper, which really comprised a lot of the book’s storyline, were the ones she wanted me to skip. That’s why if I had it to do over again, I would have waited until The Five-Year-Old was a bit closer to the book’s recommended age of 8 and up.

      If your children don’t mind hearing about bad guys doing bad things, they will probably enjoy this book.

      Like

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