AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books Winners Announced

The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, established in 2005, celebrates outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. The prizes are awarded to recently published books in various categories and will be presented at the AAAS Annual Meeting on 18 February 2012. This year we are honoring three books and one author for Lifetime Achievement.

Children’s Science Picture Book
Seabird in the Forest: The Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet
(Boyds Mills Press)
Joan Dunning, Author and Illustrator
For nearly two hundred years, scientists were puzzled by a mystery:  They had never seen the nest of a small seabird called the marbled murrelet. In an exquisitely illustrated and eloquently written book, author-illustrator Joan Dunning unravels the mystery, telling the story of a nesting pair of murrelets as they fly inland to lay a single egg and nurture their baby chick—hundreds of feet above the ground in the canopy of a redwood tree.  The two seabirds have been living in the swells of the Pacific Ocean, eating small fish among the forests of kelp.  But in the spring, when the female is to lay her egg, she must find a place it will stay dry for a month.  This beautiful book paints a detailed picture of the birds’ diverse habitats and introduces young readers to researchers’ methods for answering scientific questions. 

Middle Grades Science Book
The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frog: A Scientific Mystery
(Millbrook Press)
Sandra Markle, Author
Sandra Markle reaches kids Kindergarten-aged and older with her easy-to-read account of how reasearchers are using the scientific process to solve the mystery of the loss of vast populations of Golden Frogs in Panama.  Children can see how scientists identified the loss of frogs, tested competing hypotheses, and used evidence to draw conclusions.  They are also able to see how conservation biologists are now using science to undertake the task of saving the Golden Frog from extinction and preserve biodiversity. 

Young Adult Science Book
Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle
(Basic Books)
Thor Hanson, Author
Thor Hanson’s book shows readers that a feather is more than a quill pen, boa, or hat ornament. His clear and enthusiastic narrative links such varied topics as theories of feathered dinosaurs and how flight might have begun, how feathers act as heat shields, why we see different colors in bird feathers, and the story of the Titanic’s most valuable cargo—40 cases of fine plume feathers—along with the author’s own scientific research.  His anecdotes and experiences are enhanced by research reflected in a lengthy bibliography, notes, and credits.  The first sentence in the introduction, “The vultures made me do it,” immediately hooks readers and promises a fun and entertaining experience; the rest of the book does not disappoint. 

Lifetime Achievement Award
Vicki Cobb
Sometimes referred to as the “Julia Child of hands-on-science,” Vicki Cobb is the highly regarded author of more than eighty-five nonfiction books for children.  Since 1972, when HarperCollins first published Science Experiments You Can Eat, Cobb’s playful–yet scientifically-sophisticated books–have challenged young people to engage in science, inviting both girls and boys in grades K-8 into the “kitchen laboratory” and encouraging them to think critically and creatively about how science works in the real world. She has written for the youngest children, providing science guidance for their parents, and has addressed older readers through experiment books, biographies, and informational text on fascinating topics such as “supersuits” and extreme climates. Her recent titles include: the Body Battles series from Millbrook Press; Marie Curie: A Photographic Story of a Life from DK Books; and We Dare You! Hundreds of Fun Science Bets, Challenges and Experiments You Can Do At Home; What’s the BIG Idea? Amazing Science Questions for the Curious Kid, and See for Yourself: More Than 100 Amazing Experiments for Science Fairs and School Projects from Skyhorse Publishing.



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