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Past winners and shortlisted books

Cats React to Science Facts, by children’s author Izzi Howell, has been selected by children as the 2020 winner of the Royal Society Young People’s Books Prize. 

Explore the full shortlist, from the tiny microbes in your gut, through the poetic language of code to the wonders of space and beyond, below.

Here’s what some of the young judges had to say about the winning book:

“This is an incredible book to read. I recommend this book to anyone that loves cats and science.” 

“Did you know hot water freezes faster than cold water? This book got us thinking, and we tested things out. We learnt new things and challenged what we thought we already knew.”

“This book was good because instead of focusing on one particular aspect of science it covered lots of topics. The images of the cats helped me imagine the science.”

“This is a really fun book. When I think of science, I don’t think about a fun lesson but when I read this it shows me how science is good fun.”


Professor Mike Kendall FRS, Chair of the 2020 judges said: “Cats React to Science Facts is a highly accessible and rewarding book for children to read. This book successfully captures complex information in a condensed form – each page combines a perfect balance of jokes, facts, graphics and of course, cats, to keep young minds engaged and entertained. 

“It’s an entry-level book which provides a gateway to the important scientific topics of our time. Science is fun and the books and study materials for children and young adults should reflect this. Any book that gets young people interested in science who would not normally be engaged in science has to be a good thing.” 

View a full list of past winners and shortlisted books.

The 2020 shortlist

Recent winners


Raman Prinja: Planetarium (2019)

Gianni Sarcone and Marie-Jo Waeber: Optical Illusions (2018)

Home Lab, Robert Winston (DK)

Robert Winston: Home Lab (2017)

How machines work

David Macaulay: How Machines Work (2016)

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