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2018 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize: Steve Jenkins' Remarks about SB&F Prize Winner: Animals by the Numbers

Steve Jenkins

The 2018 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize Ceremony went off without a hitch on Saturday, February 17, 2018 in the Austin Convention Center. Most of the prize winners, along with family and friends, attended the ceremony in the AAAS Pavilion. While guests snacked on muffins and pastries and drank some much-needed coffee, Maria Sosa, editor-in-chief of SB&F, presented the awards to the winners. Visit our AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books site for more information.
We’ve asked each of the winners to provide us with their remarks. This month, we feature the remarks from Steve Jenkins, author of Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics. Steve, along with his wife Robin Page, won the SB&F Prize before, in 2009, for their work on the book Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World. Steve and Robin have authored 16 books together. Both authors/illustrators continue to do impressive work in the area of nonfiction books for children.
You can read more about Steve Jenkins, the work he does, and find educator resources by going to Spotlight on Science Writers: Steve Jenkins on Science NetLinks.
Read on to see what Steve had to say about writing Animals by the Numbers.

Steve Jenkins Remarks

Thank you, AAAS and Subaru, for awarding this honor and for bringing me to Austin. One of the best parts of these events is getting to spend time with other authors and to hear about how and why they do what they do. And it’s great to be able to talk to my audience—the children—and hear what they have to say about my books.

My first career was as a graphic designer. My wife, Robin Page, and I had our own design office for many years, and we worked on corporate design projects before we began writing and illustrating children’s books. Even before that, when I was in secondary school, I was sure I’d become a scientist. I took a different route, but making nonfiction books about the natural world has reconnected me to my early fascination with science.

Recently, I’ve become interested in information graphics. You’ve probably noticed that they are having a moment in our culture and media. It's inspired, I’m sure, by the availability and ease of use of sophisticated graphics programs. Watching my own children and their friends play computer games, I was struck by how easily they read and navigated complex screens with multiple levels of information: maps, 3-D diagrams, gauges and meters showing time elapsed, lifespan, energy, supplies, and so on. It occurred to me that many kids can understand much more sophisticated visual information than we non-native digital authors and illustrators have been offering them. And I realized that the ability to read and decode information presented graphically has become an important form of literacy for children (and adults).

I’ve included a few pages of information graphics in other books, but Animals by the Numbers is my first attempt at making an entire book based on the concept.

To have it validated in such a significant forum is deeply gratifying.