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Authors, Illustrator Win AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books
Four authors and an illustrator of children's science books have won the 2008 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, a prize intended to promote science literacy by drawing attention to the importance of good science writing and illustration. AAAS and Subaru co-sponsor these prizes for recently published works that are scientifically sound and foster an understanding and appreciation of science in readers of all ages.
"These prizes encourage science literacy in children and young adults by recognizing authors who convey the excitement of science in ways that engage young minds," said Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of its journal, Science.
The prizes are awarded in four categories: Children's Science Picture Books, Middle Grades Nonfiction Science Books, Young Adult Science Book and Hands-on Science/Activity Book. Topics highlighted by this year's winners include camouflaged creatures, fossil collectors in Patagonia, and tree climbers in California's redwoods.
The winning books typically wind up in libraries, said Heather Malcomson, AAAS senior project associate who administers the AAAS/Subaru award. "We get a lot of responses from libraries," she said. Podcast interviews with the winning authors and lesson plans based on the books are other ways that the award fosters scientific literacy, Malcomson added.
Winners will receive their awards -- $1,500 and a plaque -- on Saturday, 16 February during the free Family Science Days event at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston. Children from the Boston-area who have read the winning entries will present the awards to the winners.
"Subaru of America would like to congratulate the award winners for their outstanding contribution to science writing and illustration," said Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer, Subaru of America Inc. "This type of contribution is one that is recognized today, but can be appreciated for generations to come."
The 2008 recipients are:
Children's Science Picture Book
Where in the Wild? Camouflaged Creatures Concealed and Revealed
Authors: David Schwartz and Yael Schy
Illustrator: Dwight Kuhn
Tricycle Press, 2007
The authors ask readers to look carefully at a series of 11 full-page color photographs and find animals, or their eggs in one instance, camouflaged from would-be predators or prey. Ten of the photographs have poems on a facing page offering rhyming hints as to where to look and what to look for. Each folio unfolds to vividly reveal the previously camouflaged creature against a faded-out background. Each animal revealed has an accompanying page of life history information, with additional lore on its use of color and behavior in avoiding predation or in assisting in capturing prey. The authors and their photographer have put together interactive hard copy that should captivate today's youngsters.
Middle Grades Nonfiction Science Book
Dinosaur Eggs Discovered: Unscrambling the Clues!
Authors: Lowell Dingus, Luis M. Chaippe, and Rodolfo Coria
Twenty-First Century Books, 2007
The book summarizes 1997 and 1999 expeditions to a spectacular fossil-collecting site in Patagonia where the authors discovered hundreds of eggs laid by 40-foot-long titanosaur dinosaurs on a floodplain of Late Cretaceous age. Some of the eggs contained embryos, and many were found in clutches within nests excavated by the huge sauropods. A question and answer section inspects the reasoning behind the chosen excavation site, its former environment, and its former inhabitants. The innovative format provides an introduction to scientific methodology for younger readers. Color photographs taken in the field and excellent color reconstructions further enhance the book. Of special interest are feature boxes that amplify topics mentioned in the text, such as radioactive dating, dinosaur classification, and plate tectonics.
Young Adult Science Book
The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring
Author: Richard Preston
Random House, 2007
In The Wild Trees, author Richard Preston introduces us to, at first, just a few intrepid adventurers, untrained in botany or any other science, who sought to both discover and climb the tallest coast redwoods in Northwestern California. As their fascination grew, so did their desire to get advanced degrees in the plant sciences and to learn the ways of the biology of the trees. From the 1970s onward, the techniques of tall-tree climbing -- the rope systems, the tools, the tricks of the trade -- are all here, carefully laid out in a historical study. Although readers learn a lot about the architecture of the forest canopy, the book is less a book purely about science than it is a book about adventure.
Hands-On Science/Activity Books
Author: Pat Murphy
Little Brown & Company, 2006
Exploratopia offers more than 400 kid-friendly experiments, most of which require everyday materials that are easily obtained. Each activity begins with a question, a tidbit of information, or an interesting observation about many real-world experiences of children. The activities are enhanced by detailed drawings, photographs, and cross-sectional diagrams. The book emphasizes process-based skills, including making comparisons, experimenting to test your ideas, asking questions and explaining what you see. The content of the book is broad based and contains numerous interdisciplinary applications (e.g., to music, history, money, paper). Children from the middle elementary grades through middle school would likely enjoy reading and "exploring" this book very much.
History of the Prizes
The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books celebrates outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. The Prize began in 2005 by looking back on decades of outstanding science books and honoring five authors and one illustrator for their significant and lasting contribution to children's and young adult science literature and illustration. As of 2006, the Prize honors recently published, individual science books.
The prizes are meant to encourage the writing and publishing of high-quality science books for all age groups.
17 February 2008