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 give 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.

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.

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Cross-posted on Caterpickles.

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 will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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