2013 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Winners Announced

Four science books exploring the diversity of the ocean’s food chain, the life and work of autism expert Temple Grandin, four citizen science projects, and the memorable recounting of the struggle to save a Hawaiian monk seal pup named Ho’ailona (“KP2”) earned top honors in the 2013 AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Film (SB&F) competition.

This year’s prizes—which promote science literacy by showcasing the importance of good science writing and illustration—recognize the work of four authors as well as an illustrator and a photographer. AAAS and Subaru of America, Inc. co-sponsor the prizes to recognize recently published works that are scientifically sound and foster an understanding and appreciation of science in readers of all ages.

“AAAS is pleased to help stimulate the public’s interest in science by celebrating the accomplishments of outstanding science book authors,” said Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the journal Science. “This year’s winners have created innovative works intended to encourage science literacy and engage children and young adults in the excitement of scientific discovery.”

The 2013 prizes recognized efforts in four categories: Children’s Science Picture Books, Middle Grades Science Books, Young Adult Science Books, and Hands-on Science Books. Many of the prize finalists were books either written by female scientists or highlighting the work of female scientists, including Sylvia Earle, Rachel Carson, Temple Grandin, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, and Terrie M. Williams, said Shirley Malcom, head of Education and Human Resources at AAAS. “All of these resources can play a role in encouraging young girls to explore a career in science.”

Abana Jacobs, national promotions and sponsorship specialist for Subaru of America, Inc., congratulated the winners “for their outstanding contribution to science writing and illustration.” Winners will receive their prizes—$1500 and a plaque—during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

The 2013 prize recipients are:

Children’s Science Picture Book

0115_ocean_sunlightOcean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas, by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, illustrated by Molly Bang (Scholastic Inc. /Blue Sky Press, New York, NY)

Acclaimed Caldecott artist Molly Bang and ocean scientist Penny Chisholm present a stunning, sweeping view of our ever-changing oceans. From tiny aquatic plants to the biggest whale or fish, Bang and Chisholm present a moving, living picture of the miraculous balance that sustains each life cycle and food chain deep within the oceans.

Middle Grades Science Book

0115_temple_grandinTemple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World, by Sy Montgomery (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, MA)

Although she was diagnosed with autism and her doctor recommended hospitalization, Temple Grandin’s mother believed in her and sent her to school. Today, Grandin is a scientist and professor of animal science, and her world-changing career revolutionized the livestock industry. This compelling biography, complete with Grandin’s personal photographs, takes us inside her extraordinary mind and opens the door to a broader understanding of autism.

Young Adult Science Book

0115_the_odysseyThe Odyssey of KP2: An Orphan Seal, a Marine Biologist, and the Fight to Save a Species, by Terrie M. Williams. (Penguin Press, New York, NY.)

Terri M. Williams’ interesting, well-told story of a single Hawaiian monk seal pup illustrates how scientific research increases knowledge while helping to draw attention to the fate of a declining species. Her story is a highly readable mix of information on how human and animal culture play roles in the natural cycle of life and descriptions of “hands-on” science. She also raises questions concerning the value and appropriateness of government intervention in helping to preserve species for scientific research.

Hands-on Science Book

0115_citizen_scientistsCitizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard, by Loree Griffin Burns; photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz (Henry Holt and Company, New York, NY)

Citizen Scientists introduces children (and adults) to four projects that allow ordinary people to play an essential role in conducting important research. The four projects profiled are the Monarch Watch, in which citizens catch and tag monarchs or report information from tagged butterflies; the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, in which citizens do winter bird counts; Frog Watch, which requires listening for frog and toad calls; and Lost Ladybug, in which citizens help chronicle ladybug abundance and diversity. Through the experiences of young people who are participating in the projects, the book strives to make young readers eager to participate and be informed about the creatures that often live right in their backyards.

The SB&F prizes began in 2005 when four lifetime achievement awards were given to authors of children’s science books. It honored authors whose books promoted science literacy. This year’s finalists were selected by a group of judges made up of librarians, scientists, and science literacy experts. Out of nearly 175 books up for consideration across all four categories this year, the judges selected 19 finalists, the largest number since the inception of the prizes.

SB&F Editor-in-Chief Maria Sosa said she was pleasantly surprised by the number of finalists, noting that typically there are only four finalists in each category. “I was especially surprised to see so many excellent entries in the hands-on science category,” she said. “Inquiry and hands-on science are very important elements of science learning, and so we were heartened to have such a rich field of nominees.”

The 2013 competition also is notable because it marks the first year in which there have been repeat winners in any of the categories. Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm won in the Children’s Picture Book category in 2009 for their previous collaboration, Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life. Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz won in the Middle School Science Book category in 2011 for The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe.


Read about the 2013 prize finalists.

Learn more about the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books.

Learn more about Science Books & Film.