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Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2011 shortlist announced

17 June 2011

Educationalists and scientists have combined their insider knowledge of exciting science and what captivates children to choose the shortlist for this year's Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.  Publishers across the UK have submitted their best recent books that communicate science to young people and an adult judging panel have now narrowed down the choice to a shortlist of six books.

The winning book will be selected entirely by groups of young people from over 100 schools and youth groups.  These groups together form a judging panel that will look at all the shortlisted books and choose a winner.

The Prize celebrates the best books that communicate science to young people aged up to 14 and Professor Michael Lockwood FRS, Chair of the judges said: "These books cover a huge range of science - from the icky sticky science of the human body to the stunning story of the universe - but they all have one thing in common, making science exciting, fun and accessible to younger readers.  We can't wait to see what the real experts - the young people who will be choosing the winner - make of them."

The six books shortlisted by the judges are:

The Icky Sticky Blood and Snot Book by Steve Alton and Nick Sharratt (Bodley Head)
The judges said: "This book does exactly what it says on the cover, using some really yucky facts and pop-ups to explain the fascinating science of the human body.  We liked the fact that it is easy enough for young children to understand at the start, but then builds up to some fairly complex science which parents or teachers can help with."

What's the Point of Being Green? by Jacqui Bailey (Franklin Watts)
The judges said: “A book that covers the key environmental issues for this generation of young readers in an accurate and measured way.  The book pulls no punches - but it also remains balanced and positive, pointing to practical solutions that its readers and their parents can easily put into practice."

How the World Works by Christiane Dorion and illustrated by Beverly Young (Templar Publishing)
The judges said: "We loved the way this book uses stunning pop-ups and other mechanisms to explain the science of the Earth - covering everything from the hydrological cycle to plate tectonics."

What Mr Darwin Saw by Mick Manning and Brita Granström (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
The judges said: “This book uses the story of Charles Darwin’s life to make the science of evolution and the wonders of nature truly accessible to young people.  The reader really feels immersed in Darwin’s world and the story of his younger years should prove an inspiration to any child."

The Story of Astronomy and Space Published by Usborne
The judges said: “Beautifully illustrated, this wonderfully engaging book uses superb images from space missions and astronomy alongside quirky hand-drawn illustrations to explain the science of space and the story of the scientists who explored it."

What Goes On In My Head by Robert Winston (Dorling Kindersley)
The judges said: "An astonishing book for slightly older readers, which explains how the brain and nervous system work and how they influence our abilities and behaviour.  Wonderful and intriguing illustrations make the book attractive to a wider age group."

The winner will be announced towards the end of the year.

The judges on the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize panel this year who selected the six shortlisted books are:
Professor Michael Lockwood FRS (Chair) is Professor of space environment physics in the Department of Meteorology at University of Reading and an individual merit scientist with Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's RAL Space Department.
Dr Sarah Newey is a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology at University of Oxford.
Deborah Colvin is Director of STEM Learning at Mulberry School for Girls in London.
Malcolm Robertson owns The Edinburgh Bookshop with his wife, Vanessa.  Prior to changing career and becoming a bookseller and publisher, he was a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and carried out research in the areas of condensed matter physics.

This year’s shortlist includes five authors who are new to the prize, four who have been previously shortlisted (Jacqui Bailey, Robert Winston, Mick Manning and Brita Granstöm) and one who has previously won (Robert Winston in 2005).  Previous prize-winners have included the Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do by Rebecca Gilpin & Leonie Pratt, Can you feel the force? by Richard Hammond and Horrible Science: Really Rotten Experiments by Nick Arnold and Tony de Saulles.

The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize did not take place in 2008 - 2010 due to funding issues but we are delighted to announce that in 2011 the Prize is offered thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.