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Adventure, astrophysics and atoms abound in Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2021 shortlist

15 September 2021

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 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.

A shortlisting panel of BBC broadcaster Gabby Logan, award-winning author Sharna Jackson, teacher Robin James, chemist Andy Jupp and volcano scientist Katharine Cashman, have 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 pour over the pages full of action, adventure and atoms and declare their winner. 
The winning book will be unveiled at an awards ceremony in February 2022.

Chair of the judges and Royal Society Fellow Professor Katharine Cashman said: “This year’s shortlist is full of exceptional books - we all wished they had been available when we were young. Through creative story-telling and illustration they explore our planet, our solar system and ways in which we - as scientists, inventors and curious people - interact with both the natural world and the world we have constructed.”

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

  • I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast by Michael Holland and Phillip Giordano
  • 100 Things to Know About Saving the Planet by by Rose Hall, Jerome Martin, Alice James, Darran Stobbart, Alex Frith, Eddie Reynolds, Lan Cook, Matthew Oldham and Tom Mumbray, illustrated by Federico Mariani, Parko Polo, Dominique Byron, Dale Edwin Murray, Jake Williams and Ollie Hoff 
  • I Am a Book. I Am a Portal to the Universe. by Stefanie Posavec and Miriam Quick
  • Inventors by Robert Winston, illustrated by Jessamy Hawke
  • Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes by Sophie Deen, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
  • Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Everyone by Lisa Harvey-Smith, illustrated by Mel Matthews

What the panel said about this year’s shortlist:

I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast by Michael Holland 

Broadcaster and presenter Gabby Logan said: “This is a beautiful book - we learn about plants and their habitats in a way that every child can relate to. The diagrams are stunning, and the way facts are displayed is easily ‘digestible’. I loved it.”

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

Scientist and lecturer Dr Andrew Jupp said: “I was looking for books that were particularly engaging or presented science in a new way. This book encouraged the reader to touch certain parts of the page to transfer bacteria, balance it on their head, and drop the book from a height – the interactivity of this book is what science is all about!”

Inventors by Robert Winston 

Volcanologist and Royal Society Fellow Professor Katharine Cashman said: “This book excelled in showing the diversity of scientists and inventors and in highlighting a wide range of both inventions and inventors.”

Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes by Sophie Deen 

Award-winning author Sharna Jackson said: “This book is a great example of excellent storytelling and wonderful characters. The tech elements are told in such a creative, inventive way. It’s important for girls of all backgrounds to be encouraged to take part in science.”

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

Gabby Logan said: “This is the kind of book I would have by my bed as a child. Children are much more engaged in climate change than many of the adults they live with and this book is such a good practical way of helping to bridge that gap and spark conversation.”

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

Primary school teacher Robin James said: “The writing is spot on - the content is engaging and conversational; children will feel they're in safe hands and that the writer 'gets' them.”

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