Optical Illusions wins the Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize 2018

15 November 2018

Optical Illusions by visual artist and author team Gianni A. Sarcone and Marie-Jo Waeber has been chosen by children as the winning book for the 2018 Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize. The prize was awarded at a ceremony hosted by CBBC’s Katie Thistleton at the science and discovery centre W5 in Belfast.

Over 6,000 young people drawn from 360 schools and youth groups from across the UK cast their votes for their favourite science book from a shortlist of six titles.
Optical Illusions (published by QED Publishing) is jam-packed with mind-boggling puzzles and illusions that trick the eyes and brain. The book also demonstrates the science behind the awesome images, and encourages young readers to get hands-on with the illusions, with step-by-step experiments, and tips on how to draw their own "moving" optic art.

The winning authors receive an award of £10,000 and the shortlisted authors each receive £2,500.

Here’s what some of the young judges and Chair of the 2018 adult judging panel had to say about the winning book:

Annabelle, Age 9, “This was amazing, I liked the cover and the wheel you could turn. I couldn't 'see' some of them, but I will keep trying! I found it very strange how your eyes and mind can play tricks on you and I liked the way the book explains how your eye works with your brain.”

Myles, Age 10, “This was my favourite. I really enjoyed the illusions and I found it interesting doing the examples in the book.”

Chair of the 2018 judges, Professor Yadvinder Malhi FRS, said, “Optical Illusions draws you in from the moment you open it. It manages to combine instant appeal of some wonderful and mind-blowing optical illusions with just the right level of explanation that explains the science behind the illusion. As such it has something for every age from 4 to 14, and indeed for adults as well. It both entertains and educates in some surprising ways, and is a worthy winner of the Young People’s Book Prize.”

Here's what the young judges had to say about the rest of the shortlist: 

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

Thomas Hawkins-Jackson, Age 10, “It was a really good book because it tells you about a Mars Rover and I have never read anything about that before. In fact, I didn't even know about them before!” 

Lucy, Age 11, “I thought this book was AMAZING....I love how it was written like the rover was telling the story. I thought the Rover had feelings.” 

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

Annabelle, Age 9, “Lots of reading to do, but brilliant detail in the pictures and descriptions.  It will give me so much more to learn about. It is a book that goes into a lot more detail on how things actually work and how they are made. I think it will answer a lot of the questions I have about Space and no doubt give me more ideas for future questions to ask.”

Rory, Age 8, “I liked the book because it was easy to read and understand. It had everything about space from voyager 1 to the planet Venus. I really enjoyed it.” 

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

Millie, Age 11, “This book was amazing. Younger readers would really like it too because of the illustrations and flaps to lift up. It was good to lift the flaps and discover what the dinosaur’s skeleton looked like. Even adults like looking at the secrets under the tabs.”

Tom, Age 10, “I liked that this book didn’t just have the obvious dinosaurs, it has lots of new ones, it’s very up to date. There are still lots of surprising new facts even if you’re a dinosaur expert.”

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

Hannah, Age 8, “I just love science so this was awesome. I wish there really was a scientist academy that I could go to.”

Annabelle, Age 9, “I loved this book, it was easy to read and light to hold, with a soft cover. I loved the fact it showed a selection of women and men in the science roles and explained actually what they do. The detail is great on the job files and the pictures are very good. I LOVE the lay out and that you can work through the chapters with a sticker reward at the end. The experiments you can do at home are brilliant and I will be using these to learn new things with my education at home.  This book puts the fun into Fiction, you can read it and experience it. It is more than just a book, it's an opportunity to learn hands on too. It will be great for everyone, especially those who might not be big readers as they won't be put off by pages and pages of text and they can join in the experiments and learn about the actual hands on science too. More please…”

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

Luca, Age 12, “It promotes the fact that women have generally been overlooked and not recognised in science, it helps the reader realise how much of an impact women have had in science. It is amazing to see how women have impacted our world.”

Harmony, Age 11, “My favourite book had to be ‘Women in Science’ by Rachel Ignotofsky. It was an easy read, beautifully illustrated and packed with lots of information. I learnt so much about female contribution to the scientific world. One profile that has stuck with me was about Marie Curie, who died from radiation poisoning after years of exposure. Women have been involved in curing Leprosy, Polio, studying the brain and maths. It’s great that there is finally a book that tells the story of women who practically changed the world. I never knew about half of these women, I only really knew about Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Isaac Newton and this book opened me up to more. I am so glad I got my hands on this book.”