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Subaru/SB&F Prizes Given to Children’s Books and Authors that Promote Science Literacy

Children’s science books on how plants bring the Earth to life, on a real-life “frog scientist” —Tyrone Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley—and on the world of microbes earned top honors in the 2009 AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Film (SB&F) competition, sponsored by Subaru of America, Inc.

The prizes, intended to promote science literacy by drawing attention to the importance of good science writing and illustration, this year honored five authors, one nature photographer, and a total of three books. AAAS and Subaru 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.


“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 this year recognized efforts across four categories: Children’s Science Picture Books, Middle Grades Science Books, Young Adult Science Books, and Lifetime Achievement in Hands-on Science Writing. Topics highlighted by this year’s winners included the world of microbes, an engaging look at photosynthesis for young readers, and the important work of a real-life amphibian scientist.

The winning books typically wind up in libraries, said Heather Malcomson, editor of SB&F, who administers the AAAS/Subaru award. 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—$1500 and a plaque—during the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting. The awards ceremony takes place on 20 February 2010 at 5:00 pm in the Marriott San Diego, Del Mar Room.

“Subaru of America is proud to continue its support of the AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Film (SB&F) competition,” said Tim Mahoney, senior vice president and CMO, Subaru of America, Inc. “Congratulations to the award winners for their outstanding contribution to science writing and illustration.”

The 2009 recipients are:

Children’s Science Picture Book

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life
Authors: Molly Bang and Dr. Penny Chisholm
Illustrator: Molly Bang
Publisher: Blue Sky Press/Scholastic

This charming book, intended for first- through fourth-graders, tells the story of photosynthesis and its connection to living things, including children themselves, from the perspective of the Sun. The book draws children into the story with its friendly narrative, beginning with an invitation from the Sun to “listen” and “feel how warm you are.”

Middle Grades Science Book

The Frog Scientist
Author: Pamela S. Turner
Illustrator: Andy Comins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

The Frog Scientist follows the research of Tyrone Hayes, a University of California, Berkeley, professor who is examining the effects of the herbicide atrazine on frogs. The story offers inspiration based on the experiences of Hayes, an understandable description of his experimental methods, and information about the threats facing amphibians.

Young Adult Science Books

Invisible Kingdom: From the Tips of Our Fingers to the Tops of Our Trash, Inside the Curious World of Microbes
Author: Idah Ben-Barak
Publisher: Basic Books

This book offers a whimsical, winding tour of the often-maligned yet marvelous microbial world. Pitched at a general audience, it highlights the dazzling diversity of fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Despite a light, upbeat approach, the book presents a strong dose of scientific information, with sections on sigma factors, stress responses, the lysis/lysogenic switch, synthetic biology, and flagellular motion.

Lifetime Achievement in Hands-on Science Writing

Author: Robert Gardner

In lieu of honoring a single book, AAAS and Subaru in 2009 decided to award a lifetime achievement award in the category of hands-on science writing to Robert Gardner, award-winning author of more than 130 science books for young readers.

Gardner has devoted much of his life to educating children in all disciplines of science. After graduating from Wesleyan University and Trinity College, he taught biology, chemistry and physics at the Salisbury School for almost 40 years. He was department chair for 30 of those years. He has developed science curricula, was a Klingenstein Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia, and has taught at a number of summer science institutes. He retired from teaching in 1989 to write on a full-time basis.

As an author of books for young readers, his clear presentation of science at all grade levels, along with his creative writing and use of common household materials, have helped him garner excellent reviews for his books. Many have been named Best Books for Children and Best Books for Junior High and Young Adults by SB&F at AAAS, as well as Honor Books by the Society of School Librarians International.

“From Science Projects about Playground Physics to Slam Dunk! Science Projects with Basketball, Robert Gardner’s books have excited thousands of children to get involved in science and to understand the scientific method, all while having fun,” said  Shirley Malcom, director of Education and Human Resources at AAAS,


About Subaru of America, Inc.Ab

Subaru of America, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of nearly 600 dealers across the United States. Subaru makes the best-selling All-Wheel Drive car sold in America based on R.L. Polk & Co. new vehicle retail registration statistics calendar year-end 2007. In addition, Subaru boasts the most fuel efficient line-up of all-wheel drive products sold in the market today based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy standards. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero- landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Get additional information.

About Science Books & Film (SB&F)

Since 1965, Science Books & Film (SB&F) has been the authoritative guide to science resources, bringing expert information to bear on choices of materials for a library, classroom or institution. Published by AAAS, SB&F is the only critical review journal devoted exclusively to print and nonprint materials in all of the sciences and for all age groups. Every year, SB&F evaluates nearly 1000 books, videos, DVDs, and software packages for general audiences, professionals, teachers and students from kindergarten through college.

Read more about AAAS awards.