Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stephen Hawking’s bedtime stories

[Also cited at SGlead.wordpress.com]

Spotted a New Scientist interview (18 Mar 09) with Stephen Hawking and his daughter, Lucy Hawking, about their writing of Children’s books (and more).

Here's a quote from Stephen Hawking:
It is extremely important to me to write for children. Children ask how things do what they do, and why. Too often they are told that these are stupid questions to ask, but this is said by grown-ups who don’t know the answers and don’t want to look silly by admitting they don’t know.

It is important that young people keep their sense of wonder and keep asking why. I’m a child myself, in the sense that I’m still looking.

Children are fascinated by black holes and ask me questions. I find they soon get the idea if it is explained in simple language. And yes, it is nice to think a few of them might grow up and read A Brief History from cover to cover.
Link

In the interview, they also shared more about their father-daughter relationship, and how they decided to go into books for children (it was Lucy's idea).

Here's an interesting question to Lucy Hawking, and her response:
Have you ever heard your father's real voice rather than his computer-generated one?

LH: I was born in 1970 and Dad got his voice synthesiser in 1985, so I grew up with him and his speaking voice, although even I now think of his voice entirely in terms of his familiar computerised one. I saw a BBC documentary about him a couple of years ago, which featured him speaking in his actual voice. It was a shock to hear it again because I hadn't heard it for so long - it really took me back.

Their latest book, George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt, isn't in the NLB public libraries yet (you may wish to check the online catalogue at a later date).
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Other earlier works by Lucy Hawking are available in the NLB libraries:

George's Secret Key to the Universe
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Summary (from Catalogue.nlb.gov.sg): Follows the adventures of a young boy and his neighbour friend as they travel through a computer portal into outer space, where they explore such mysteries as black holes and the origins of the universe, while trying to evade an evil scientist.
  • NLB Call No. (book): J HAW (i.e. "J" = Children's Section)
  • NLB Call No. (AV item): J AV HAW (i.e. "J AV" = Children's Section, Audio-Visual item)

Run for your life
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NLB Call No.: HAW (Adult Fiction section)

The accidental marathon
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NLB Call No.: HAW (Adult Fiction section)

Jaded
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NLB Call No.: HAW (Adult Fiction section)

Wouldn't it be cool to have Lucy Hawking do a book talk/ storytelling session to kids at the Public Library?

It's a rhetorical question :)

More about Lucy Hawking's writings, at www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/h/lucy-hawking

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