Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2022 Shortlist

Discover how an insect diet could help the planet, how soaring skyscrapers reach beyond the clouds, and how the women that dared to think differently contributed to life-changing scientific discoveries, with the shortlist of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.

The prize celebrates the very best science books for under-14s and aims to encourage young readers to satisfy their curiosity by immersing themselves in the wonderful world of science.

The shortlisted books for the Young People’s Book Prize 2022 are: 

  • Beetles for Breakfast…and Other Weird and Wonderful Ways to Save The Planet by Madeleine Finlay, illustrated by Jisu Choi
  • Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories by Kate Pankhurst
  • Fourteen Wolves by Catherine Barr, illustrated by Jenni Desmond
  • How Was That Built? by Roma Agrawal, illustrated by Katie Hickey
  • If the World Were 100 People by Jackie McCann, illustrated by Aaron Cushley
  • Microbe Wars by Gill Arbuthnott, illustrated by Marianna Madriz

A shortlisting panel made up of scientists, an actor, a teacher, and authors has whittled down dozens of titles to six of the year’s most fascinating books. 

The shortlist will now be sent out to over 700 UK schools, science clubs and groups, where more than 15,000 young judges will pore over the pages before declaring their winner. 

The winning book will be unveiled at an online awards ceremony in March 2023.

Beetles For Breakfast…and Other Weird and Wonderful Ways to Save The Planet by Madeleine Finlay, illustrated by Jisu Choi

We all know the effects that climate change is having on our planet – but what about the strange, and creative ways that scientists are working to find practical and imaginative  answers to these big problems? 

Following a day in the life of a child, we see how new green inventions could fit into everyday life, from brushing your teeth with biodegradable algae, to eating beetle burgers for lunch and coming home to do your homework with a pen with ink made from exhaust fumes. With a mixture of infographic-style artwork and topical, and funny facts from scientist Madeleine Finlay, children will love seeing familiar scenes with a futuristic twist. Open up to learn all about the cool, exciting and sometimes quite strange inventions that could be part of normal life in the future.  

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories by Kate Pankhurst

Prepare to be inspired with this fantastically great new series for young readers from bestselling author Kate Pankhurst, descendent of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. In this first book, read the true stories of amazing scientists and discover things that are out of this world!

Women have been responsible for many of the world’s most ground-breaking scientific discoveries. These are the stories of incredible female scientists whose hard work and persistence changed our understanding of science and transformed people’s ideas of what women can do.

Fourteen Wolves by Catherine Barr, illustrated by Jenni Desmond 

 In fairy tales, the wolf’s cry makes people shudder. They’ve been hunted and captured but the wolf carries a wild magic – a magic that once restored a barren land. When wolves disappeared from Yellowstone Park in the 1930s, the ecosystem started to collapse.  

Enormous herds of elk swarmed the plains, bears starved, rabbit families shrunk, and birds flew away to new homes. Plants vanished, trees withered, and rivers meandered. Until in 1995, wolves returned to the park and everything began to change for the better. This is the story of their homecoming. 

With atmospheric storytelling from Catherine Barr and breathtakingly beautiful artwork by Jenni Desmond, this inspiring true story shows that every species plays an important part in protecting our planet.  

How Was That Built?  by Michael Holland and Phillip Giordano

Join Roma Agrawal, the award-winning structural engineer who worked on The Shard, for an exciting behind-the-scenes look at some of the world’s most amazing landmarks. Meet the extraordinary people who challenged our beliefs about what’s possible, pioneering remarkable inventions that helped build the Brooklyn Bridge in the US, the Pantheon in Italy, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Shard in England and the Sapporo Dome in Japan. Discover the ingenious methods engineers have come up with to enable us to build underground, underwater, on ice and even in space, and learn about the impact different forces and materials can have on a structure by carrying out your own engineering experiments from the ‘Try it at Home’ sections. With beautiful and detailed illustrations by Katie Hickey, get ready to see the built world around you like never before!  

If the World Were 100 People by Jackie McCann, illustrated by Aaron Cushley 

There are almost 8 billion humans living on Earth, but it’s tricky to picture so many people! So instead, let’s imagine the whole planet is a village where 100 people live – each person representing around 80 million people in the real world.  

So what does our global village of 100 people look like? Are they all grown-ups? Are there more males or females? How many have black hair or blue eyes? What languages do they speak? This book answers all of these questions and much, much more!  

Big ideas are broken down into bitesize chunks through clever illustration and graphic design. By focusing on just 100 people, it’s easier to see the things we have in common, and the things that make us unique. If the World Were 100 People is a perfect introduction to the world we live in for children aged 5+ and a wonderful way to support them in becoming global citizens. 

Microbe Wars by Gill Arbuthnott, illustrated by Marianna Madriz

Since the beginning of human history, we have been at war with an invisible enemy. Microbes. 

These tiny organisms can spread terrible diseases. Ramses V, Pharaoh of Egypt may have died of smallpox; in 1918 a new illness called the Spanish Flu killed 50 million people in 18 months; and in the fourteenth century the black death killed more than a quarter of the population. In more recent times Covid 19 has changed the way we live. 

But there’s good news too! Human scientists have learned to fight back. In the 18th century Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine, and since the 1930s penicillin has saved millions of lives. And many microbes are helpful. They help our digestion, give us powerful medicines and even food. 

This is the Microbe Wars. It’s good, it’s bad sometimes it’s ugly, but it’s a scientific journey filled with innovation and hope. 

[Based on a press release.]

2021 Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize

I am a Book. I am a Portal to the Universe by Stefanie Posavec and Miriam Quick is the winner of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2021. The award was announced March 8 in an online ceremony.

More than 11,000 young judges drawn from 500 UK schools and youth groups cast their votes for their favorite science book from a shortlist of six titles, chosen by a panel of adult judges, including BBC broadcaster Gabby Logan and award-winning author Sharna Jackson.

The Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize champions the best science books for under-14s. The winning authors receive an award of £10,000 and the shortlisted authors each receive £2,500.

This year’s winner is an abstract and artistic exploration of the collaboration between art, science and data. Combining Stefanie Posavec’s skills as a designer, artist and author, and Miriam Quick’s experience as a data journalist and researcher I Am a Book. I Am a Portal to the Universe published by Penguin, becomes a tool to help young readers uncover the science hidden in everyday life. 

Through simple activities, like wearing the book as a hat or dropping it from a height, big questions are explored such as how loud is the Sun, how fast is gold mined, and how many stars are born in the time it takes to turn a page?

Stefanie Posavec is a designer and artist who uses data as a creative material. Miriam Quick is a data journalist and researcher who explores novel ways of communicating information.

[Based on a press release.]

Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2021 Shortlist

From stepping into Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop, being transported through the night sky, or even “rooting” through the world of plants – the 2021 shortlist of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize can take you on incredible journeys. The shortlist was announced September 15.

The prize recognizes the best science books for under-14s. The shortlist was picked by an adult judging panel including BBC broadcaster Gabby Logan, author Sharna Jackson, teacher Robin James, chemist Andy Jupp and volcano scientist Katharine Cashman, who whittled down more than a hundred entries to just six.

Now, with a record-breaking 537 UK schools, science clubs and groups taking up the challenge of judging this year’s prize, it’s up to 11,500 young judges to declare their winner. 

The winning book will be unveiled at an awards ceremony in February 2022.

The shortlisted books for the Young People’s Book Prize 2021 are: 

  • I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast by Michael Holland 

Did you know that the rubber in your shoes came from a tree? Ever wondered where your breakfast cereal is grown? Have you remembered to thank a bee today for the food you ate for dinner last night? Get ready to learn everything you never knew about plants and then some! This illustrated compendium celebrates the plants you didn’t even know you used, from your toothpaste to your car tires to the name of your great-great-aunt. This comprehensive overview also contains great plant projects you and your friends can try at home!

  • I Am a Book. I Am a Portal to the Universe by Stefanie Posavec and Miriam Quick

Hello. I am a book. But I’m also a portal to the universe. I have 112 pages, measuring 20cm high and wide. I weigh 465g. And I have the power to show you the wonders of the world. Lift me up to the sky, rest me on your lap, drop me from a height, wear me as a hat. Together, through data, we’ll uncover the stories hidden in the everyday. How long is an anteater’s tongue? How tiny is the DNA in your cells? How fast is gold mined? How loud is the sun? And how many stars have been born and exploded in the time you’ve taken to read this sentence?

Hold me in your hands and let me show you what I’m made of – and what waits for you in the corners of our awe-inspiring universe.

  • Inventors by Robert Winston 

Meet the masterminds behind the greatest inventions in history with this nonfiction book for kids aged 7 to 9.

Step into Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop, relax on board Hideo Shima’s speedy bullet train, and join movie star Hedy Lamarr to bounce ideas around in between takes. Inventors looks at the towering achievements of more than 50 inventors in great detail. The stories are as unusual as they are unique. From Mr. Kellogg, who accidentally created cornflakes after leaving grains boiling for too long, to the ancient Turkish polymath Ismail al-Jazari, who decided the best way to power a clock was with a model elephant, to Sarah E. Goode’s fold-up bed space-saving solution, the inventors of this book have all used tons of creativity to find ways to improve our world. These groundbreaking inventions include the very earliest discoveries to modern-day breakthroughs in science, food, transportation, technology, toys, and more.

Each page is packed with jaw-dropping facts, with every inventor’s achievements written as a story. Beautiful illustrations by Jessamy Hawke bring the inventor’s stories to life, and fantastic photography highlights the detail of their designs. With incredible hand-painted cross-sections revealing the intricacies of a robotic arm, the first plane, and the printing press, young readers will marvel at being able to see close-up how these amazing machines work. The inventors come from all walks of life and parts of the world, making this the perfect book for every budding inventor.

  • Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes by Sophie Deen 

Asha Joshi has the perfect excuse not to finish her homework. She’s just been recruited to join the top-secret Children’s Spy Agency. Her first mission: SAVE THE WORLD. Can she do it? Asha’s a coder so she should be able to hack into the biggest tech company in the world, fight deadly sharks and figure out why the Internet has stopped working. All before bedtime. Easy, right?

  • 100 Things to Know About Saving the Planet by Jerome Martin, Alice James, Rose Hall and Tom Mumbray

How could plastic-eating bacteria help reduce waste? Can a river be given human rights? Could we generate all the power we need from the sun and the wind? How do woolly sweaters help penguins in peril? Would building a giant sunshade in space stop the world from overheating? Find the answers to these questions and more in this exciting book full of big, small and unexpected ways to save the planet. 

  • Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Everyone by Lisa Harvey-Smith 

Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Everyone transports curious kids and inquisitive adults on an incredible journey through the night sky. Explore our solar system from the comfort of your cosy bedroom. Find out why the sky is blue. Fly around a black hole and peer inside! Learn why Jupiter has stripes.

When astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith isn’t looking skyward, she is answering the smart questions of school kids. Her engaging storytelling in this colourfully illustrated book brings the night sky to life, giving amazing new perspectives to young explorers who are always asking, ‘Why?’

[Based on a press release.]

2020 Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize

Cats React to Science Facts by Izzi Howell has been chosen by children as the winning book for the 2020 Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize. The prize was awarded during a virtual ceremony on the Royal Society’s YouTube channel, and hosted by Lindsey Russell, Blue Peter Presenter.

Over 13,000 young judges drawn from 500 schools and youth groups cast their votes for their favorite science book from a shortlist of six titles, chosen by a panel of adult judges including Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, and TV presenter and children’s author Konnie Huq.

The Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize champions the best science books for under-14s. The winning authors receive an award of £10,000 and the shortlisted authors each receive £2,500.

The press release notes, “Like every topic, science becomes more interesting when cats are involved” —

Cats React to Science Facts offers children an opportunity to explore the scientific world while grabbing their ‘cat-tention’ with humorous meme-like felines and a stream of fascinating science facts. Children can immerse themselves in different scientific topics, ranging from gravity to climate change, the human body and more.

Izzi Howell is an experienced author and editor of children’s non-fiction books whose favorite topics to write about include animals, current affairs, and the environment.

[Based on a press release.]

Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2020 Shortlist

Recreating Nobel Prize experiments at home, learning how to code through the language of song, scientific discovery and the wonder of everyday objects are among the topics explored in the six books vying for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2020. The shortlist was announced October 8.

The prize recognizes the best science books for under-14s. The shortlist was picked by an adult judging panel including Cressida Cowell, the Waterstones Children’s Laureate and author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon books; former Blue Peter presenter and author Konnie Huq; and chaired by Professor Mike Kendell, geophysicist and Fellow of the Royal Society.

The shortlisted books follow. The links are to articles about each finalist on the Society’s website.

Judge Cressida Cowell said: “This book was very interesting, the wonderful little characters brought it to life. The field is growing, with scientists only now beginning to comprehend the significance of our microbiome – it helps to educate the future generation about science fields with emergent interest.” 

Judge Konnie Huq said: “Being a curious mind, I still wonder where things have come from, and why things are. Why does the world spin? Why is the sky blue? I have children with the same questions, which has reignited my passion. Seeing every step of the process explained behind everyday actions like flicking a light switch or making a phone call really satisfied my curiosity. Igniting curiosity is what this whole Prize is about.”

Judge and Royal Society Research Fellow Professor Rosalind Rickaby said: “This book makes science fun and engaging by breaking down difficult information in a relatable way. The book introduces topics like forces, energy and climate change — the real fundamentals — in a fun and engaging way. It was thoroughly road tested in my house, it wasn’t a quick scan, this was the book my kids wanted to take to bed with them and flick through.” 

Chair of the judging panel Professor Mike Kendall said: “Not only does this book teach you about code, it teaches you the importance of logic and critical thinking through the ‘way’ of coding. It makes learning fun and prepares you for the future. In most aspects of science, you have to code. This book normalises it and shows you that coding is part of being immersed in science.”

  • How to Win a Nobel Prize written by Professor Barry Marshall with Lorna Hendry illustrated by Bernard Caleo (Published by Rock the Boat)

Judge and special educational needs coordinator and teacher Gail Eagar said: “I really enjoyed the activities at the end of each chapter, there are some unbelievable experiments. The fact that it was a female lead character added to the delight of reading this.”

Judge Cressida Cowell said: “This book successfully encapsulated topics in an imaginative and yet comprehensible way, and the brilliant opening sentence captivated me from the start. It ticked all the criteria – there was plenty of science, and it was exciting and wonderful to read.”

The winners will be chosen by over 13,000 young judges, drawn from over 500 schools, science centres, and community groups such as Scouts and Brownies from across the UK.

The overall winning book will be unveiled at an online awards ceremony in February 2021.

2019 Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize

Planetarium: Welcome to the Museum by astrophysicist Raman Prinja and artist Chris Wormell has been chosen by children as the winning book for the 2019 Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize. The prize was awarded at a ceremony hosted by CBBC’s Lindsey Russell at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford on November 13.

Planetarium (published by Big Picture Press) was selected by a record-breaking number of young judges. Over 10,600 young people drawn from 471 schools and youth groups from across the UK cast their votes for their favorite science book from a shortlist of six titles, chosen by a panel of adult judges, including author Michael Rosen and Royal Society Fellow Professor Sheila Rowan.

The Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize champions the best science books for under-14s. The winning authors receive an award of £10,000 and the shortlisted authors each receive £2,500.

Planetarium is a beautifully illustrated, eye-catching large-format tour of our solar system and beyond – a must for any budding young astronomer. From planets and moons to far-flung exoplanets, all are depicted with stylistic flourish by Wormell, who also illustrated Phillip Pullman’s best-selling La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One. Alongside each illustration, Professor Raman Prinja, Professor of Astrophysics at the University College London, delves into the science and history with text on the array of celestial subjects.

Prinja has written several successful books on the subject, including Night Sky Watcher which was shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize in 2015.

Wormell is a self-taught engraver and celebrated printmaker. He creates his timeless illustrations using wood engraving and linocut, as well as digital engraving working with tablet and computer.

[Based on a press release.]

Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2019 Shortlist

The six titles on the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2019 shortlist were announced May 28.

  • 100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding by Alice James, Eddie Reynolds, Minna Lacey, Rose Hall and Alex Frith, illustrated by Federico Mariani, Parko Polo and Shaw Nielsen (Published by Usborne Publishing)

Judge Sarah Eames said: “Coding and computing are subjects normally difficult to make entertaining, so the authors have cleverly turned them into narratives, making the topics engaging with little stories you can just dip in and out of. They’re the perfect length, too, so readers will really feel like returning to them again and again.

  • Kid Scientists by David Stabler, illustrated by Anoosha Syed (Published by Quirk Books)

Judge Michael Rosen said: “This was a great idea: ‘Why don’t you do a book on the childhood of scientists?’ You know that wild-haired guy with the moustache? Well Einstein was a child, too. It is handled very well, too – conceptually, writing-wise. Told real stories of real young people struggling through hardship. It has modern scientists, classic science figures: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jane Goodall, Nikola Tesla.”

  • Planetarium by Raman Prinja, illustrated by Chris Wormell (Published by Big Picture Press)

Chair of the judges, Sheila Rowan, said: “The illustrations in this book are fantastic and they really capture the vast scale of space – you get to see inside Neptune, the life cycle of stars, and learn about exoplanets. The writing is clear, informative, and a pleasure to read, with descriptions that draw you in. I can really imagine Planetarium inspiring young people about the wonders of the universe.”

  • Science Makers: Making with States of Matterby Anna Claybourne (Published by Wayland)

Chair of the judges, Sheila Rowan, said: “What is special with Making with States of Matter is the way it uses activities such as art, crafts and cooking to draw young people into science. It takes a very creative and practical approach to its subject, and presents it in new and unexpected ways, really bringing it to life.”

  • The Bacteria Book by Steve Mould (Published by Dorling Kindersley)

Judge Francisco Suzuki-Vidal said “My son really liked this – especially the viruses. The topics are an ideal primer to microscopic life, infectious or otherwise, and the history of science in discovering its richness. The book is very engaging, well presented, a great combination of photos, graphics, and bite-sized chunks of text.”

  • The Element in the Room written by Mike Barfield, illustrated by Lauren Humphrey (Published by Laurence King)

Judge Josh Gabbatiss said “I never imagined seeing the periodic table presented this way, but here it is, and it really works. From hydrogen right through the table, this book explores each element, their discovery, and how they pop-up in everyday life, from food to technology, to life itself. The writing and illustrations are fun and I know the kids will appreciate that.”

An adult judging panel selected the finalists, led by Professor Sheila Rowan FRS, with children’s author, Professor Michael Rosen; environment journalist, Josh Gabbatiss; astrophysicist and Royal Society University Fellow, Dr Francisco Suzuki-Vidal; and teacher, Sarah Eames.

The winner, chosen by 10,000 young readers across the UK, drawn from over 450 schools, science centres, reading clubs, community groups, Scouts and Brownies, will be revealed at an awards ceremony in November.

Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize 2018 Shortlist

The 2018 Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize shortlist was revealed June 18.

UK publishers submitted their best science books for under-14s to the 2018 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize and an adult judging panel has narrowed them down to the six best. The Prize celebrates books that communicate science to young people in an accessible, creative way and has been running for over 25 years.

The overall winner of the prize will be selected entirely by young reader judging panels drawn from over 300 schools, science centres, reading clubs, community groups, scouts and brownies.

The winner will be announced in November 2018.

Chair of the 2018 judges is Professor Yadvinder Malhi FRS. Joining Professor Yadvinder Malhi FRS on the judging panel are Dr. Martin How, Royal Society Research Fellow at the University of Bristol; teacher Alison Price, Head of Science at St. Faiths in Cambridge; Nicola Davies, zoologist and author; and Jo Marchant, science journalist and author. Their shortlist is:

  • Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum (Publisher Walker Studio)

Discover the incredible story of the search for life on Mars, told from the unique perspective of Curiosity, the Mars Rover sent to explore the red planet. Markus Motum’s stylish illustrations and diagrams reveal how a robot travelled 350,000,000 miles to explore a planet where no human has ever been.

  • Exploring Space by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Stephen Biesty (Publisher Walker Books)

The extraordinary story of space exploration, from Galileo’s telescope to the launch of the International Space Station – and beyond! Martin Jenkins’ accessible and wide-ranging narrative covers early astronomy, the history of flight, the Space Race, the day-to-day of astronauts in the International Space Station and the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and considers where future missions might take us. Stephen Biesty’s magnificent cross-section illustrations lay bare the intricate workings of space probes and shuttles, the Mars Curiosity Rover, spacesuits and Soyuz rockets. Back matter includes a comprehensive timeline and glossary of terms. With hours’ worth of detail to pore over, this is the perfect gift for all space enthusiasts, young or old

  • Lonely Planet Kids’ Dinosaur Atlas by Anne Rooney, illustrated by James Gilleard (Publisher Lonely Planet Kids)

It’s time to explore lost prehistoric lands and the huge variety of dinosaurs that roamed them with Lonely Planet Kids’ Dinosaur Atlas. Kids can unfold maps and lift the flaps to reveal amazing illustrations and facts about how dinosaurs lived and where they were discovered. They’ll also learn about famous paleontologists and measure themselves against life-size bones, teeth and claws.

From giant sauropods and horned dinosaurs, to duckbills and ferocious theropods, kids will discover how the dinosaurs evolved, what they looked like and how they hunted. Plus, we’ve included the latest finds and theories.

Created in consultation with Dr David Button, a dinosaur expert at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and featuring iconic illustrations by James Gilleard

  • Optical Illusions by Gianni A. Sarcone and Marie-Jo Waeber (Publisher QED Publishing)

The brain is an amazing thing, but it doesn’t always get things right when it comes to sight! This book is packed full of mind-boggling puzzles and diagrams that showcase the science at work behind those illusions that make us laugh, gasp and wonder HOW!?

  • Scientist Academy by Steve Martin, illustrated by Essi Kimpimäki (Publisher Ivy Kids)

Do you love experimenting, testing, making and discovering?

If the answer is yes, sign up for the Scientist Academy. As well as learning all about famous scientists, you’ll record your own heartbeat, calculate your age on Mars, create a chemical reaction and much more. Packed full of activities, puzzles, games and stickers, this is the perfect handbook for budding biologists, curious chemists and fans of physics.

So, grab your goggles, put on your lab coat, and get ready to investigate!

  • Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky (Publisher Hachette Children’s Group)

A gloriously illustrated celebration of trailblazing women. Women in Science highlights the contributions of 50 notable women to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, from both the ancient and modern worlds. The book also contains fascinating infographics and an illustrated scientific glossary.

The extraordinary women profiled include well-known figures like the physicist and chemist Marie Curie, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists and beyond…