The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Children's Science Books

The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books celebrate outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. The prizes are meant to encourage the writing and publishing of high-quality science books for all age groups. AAAS believes that, through good science books, this generation, and the next, will have a better understanding and appreciation of science.

The prizes 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. Beginning in 2006, the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize began honoring recently published, individual science books.

The prizes emphasize the importance of good science books and  encourage children and young adults to turn to science books, not only for information, but for enjoyment too!

The 2013 Winners are:

Children's Science Picture Book

Ocean Sunlight : How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas, by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm; illustrated by Molly Bang. Blue Sky Press, 2012.


Acclaimed Caldecott artist Molly Bang paints a stunning, sweeping view of our ever-changing oceans. In this timely book, Bang uses her signature poetic language and dazzling illustrations to introduce the oceanic world. From tiny aquatic plants to the biggest whale or fish, Bang and Chisholm present a moving, living picture of the miraculous balance sustaining each life cycle and food chain deep within the oceans. The lyrical text provides a clear explanation of the role of the sun in photosynthesis on land and seas as the ocean’s role in the food chain is introduced. Young readers are introduced to "the great invisible pasture of the sea," phytoplankton. Bang uses somewhat complex page designs to deliver considerable information about the way the ocean works, continuously creating a strong sequence of esthetic images. She often uses multiple frames to isolate specific interactions, while retaining an overall sense of unity.


Middle Grades Science Book

Temple Grandin : How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World, by Sy Montgomery.  Houghton Mifflin, 2012.


This is an effective and truly engaging biography that communicates a prodigious amount of information about autism. Temple Grandin, a pioneer for the humane treatment of animals by both the livestock and food industries, dealt with and learned to manage autism. Both cursed and blessed by autism, Temple, with the support and assistance of family and educators, learned to utilize the special talents she possessed because of the disorder to revolutionize the treatment of livestock, especially cattle, as they progress through the food supply chain, from birth on the farm to dinner for humans. The story of Temple Grandin's life and achievements is fascinating in its own right, but the accurate information on autism makes the book much more than just a biography. Grandin’s story provides a great example for children about succeeding against the odds, not just because of her autism but also because of her persistence in establishing her credibility and scientific acumen as a lone women in a male dominated field. The book is written at a level that is high enough to make it interesting and educational, yet simple enough that middle or junior high school students could read and learn from it. 


Hands On Science Book

Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery From Your Own Backyard, by Loree Griffin Burns; photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz.  Henry Holt, 2012. 


With informative and engaging text and high-quality photographs,Citizen Scientists introduces children (and adults) to 4 projects in which participation of ordinary people is part of important research. The projects profiled are Monarch Watch, in which citizens catch, tag, or report information from tagged butterflies; the Audubon Christmas Bird Count in which citizens count winter birds ; Frog Watch which involves listening for frog and toad calls; and Lost Ladybug in which citizens help chronicle ladybug abundance and diversity. Each chapter describes the project and its importance while reporting on the experience of young people who are participating. There is much information about the butterflies and birds, frogs and ladybugs throughout the book. This is a science book that will definitely lure in young readers and will leave them anxious to participate and be informed about these creatures that for the most part live right in our backyards.


Young Adult Science Book

The Odyssey of KP2: An Orphan Seal, a Marine Biologist, and the Fight to Save a Species, by Terrie M. Williams. Penguin Press.


Williams’ interesting, well-told story of a single Hawaiian monk seal pup illustrates how scientific research increases knowledge while helping draw attention to the fate of a declining species. Her story is a good mix of “hands on” science and how human and animal culture play roles in the natural cycle of life. She also poses for readers the question of the value and appropriateness of government intervention in helping preserve species for scientific research. Because the book focuses around a few key personalities, it provides students with an up-close look at scientists. Additionally, the presence of a female scientist opens up the possibility that girls reading The Odyssey of KP2 will be more likely to pursue science when they see it in the context of this story, especially since the narrative conveys not only Williams’ work, but also how she developed into a scientist, and her passion for her work - all good things for young people to see. 


The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books is sponsored by Subaru.