Matilda Meets the Universe
Dom Conlon, illustrated by Heidi Cannon
The ambitious Matilda returns, as effervescent as ever, and again she will impress readers with her intelligence, confidence and skill at providing in-depth expositions of scientific subjects.
Penned in the form of an interior monologue notebook, Matilda sets out to discover whether life exists on other planets. ‘… finding alien life is going to be difficult. Finding out HOW difficult is what I’m ALL about though so BRING.IT.ON.’ she writes, going on to tell us that one reason for keeping her journal is that it helps her get things straight in her head. So true.
She writes about topics such as the Big Bang, the electromagnetic spectrum and ways of communication, mentioning ground breaking work of such scientists as Georges Lemaître, James Clerk Maxwell, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Sir William Herschel, Frank Drake and his equation (new to me) and Albert Einstein. I love the way she talks about the Goldilocks Zone.
Helping Matilda in her research are members of her family – her dad, mum,
younger brother and her friend Kareem, not to mention a lot of snacks of various kinds. However possibly THE most important thing she learns is much closer to home, something about herself and the way she has been treating her little brother: ‘I need to stop calling him my little brother or HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED. He is called Harry and I realise that when he’s hanging around, he’s only trying to learn how to communicate with me. … I need to learn how to listen. Then moving out from that ‘I’m looking around this little planet of ours and wondering if we couldn’t all benefit from learning to talk to one another in a better way.’ Wise words indeed. As is her decision to make the most of all the experiences earth has to offer.
It’s amazing how much information is packed into the pages of this book but Matilda has an infectious enthusiasm for her explorations and humour permeates her writing, helping to make it more accessible. So too do Heidi Cannon’s illustrations and diagrams, which appear at every turn of the page. There’s also a glossary at the end.
Highly recommended for curious children whether or not they have a special interest in STEM subjects.