2018 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize: Steve Jenkins' Remarks about SB&F Prize Winner: 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.