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By the time you have read me, 100,000 stars will have been born, and the winner of this year’s Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize will be revealed

08 March 2022

I am a book I am a portal to the Universe cover image

The winner of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2021, announced today at an online ceremony, is ‘I Am a Book. I Am a Portal to the Universe.’ by Stefanie Posavec and Miriam Quick.

More than 11,000 young judges drawn from 500 UK schools and youth groups cast their votes for their favourite 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.

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?

The winning book also received a £10,000 prize and was announced at a virtual ceremony hosted by BAFTA-winning TV presenter Lindsey Russell and streamed live on the Royal Society’s YouTube channel.

Here’s what some of the young judges and 2021 adult judging panel had to say about the winning book:

  • “I adore this book. It’s chaos but in a good way. It’s so intriguing because it shows you how weird and wonderful our universe is, and how it’s a pleasure to live in this universe.” – Forest Hill School, London
  • “This book is unique and full of surprises, it had me wondering what the next page was going to be like, it had you reading in circles and wiggly lines and had you doing some weird things.” – Austhorpe Primary School, Leeds
  • “I found out there was a number called six quintillion!” – Latymer All Saints Primary School, London

Volcanologist Professor Katharine Cashman, Chair of the 2021 judging panel said: "This book portrays science as the creative subject that it is – from understanding the Big Bang, to spotting the size of an ostrich’s’ eyes, this book explores the science all around us."

There is magic and wonder encapsulated in every page – children can touch a dot to leave bacteria behind, and learn how many babies were born in the time it takes them to turn a page. This book tells a story and brings the reader with them – it’s different to any other science book I have ever seen before.”

Gabby Logan, judging panel member and BBC broadcaster said: "This is a fabulous science book and offers young people a unique way to learn. The beautiful designs and imagery had me immediately hooked."

We should encourage young people to think creatively, and books that ‘think outside the box’ like this should be celebrated."

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

100 Things to Know About Saving the Planet 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  

  • “Did you know scientists are developing facemasks for cows to help reduce the carbon dioxide they burp into the planet? This book teaches you so much.” – Archbishop Temple School, Preston

Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes by Sophie Deen, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar 

  • “This book combined computer science and fiction. I learnt a lot.” – Renishaw Primary School, Sheffield

I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast by Michael Holland and illustrated by Philip Giordano 

  • “This book is not like a gardening catalogue! It tells you fascinating facts and answers some quirky questions, and there are also fun DIY questions to try out as you read.” – Austhorpe Primary School, Leeds
  • “I learnt that mandrake from Harry Potter is a real plant. It was used as an anaesthetic and can make humans fall asleep for days.” – Dixons Unity Academy, Leeds

Inventors: Incredible Stories of the World's Most Ingenious Inventions by Robert Winston, illustrated by Jessamy Hawke

  • “This book taught me how people from the olden days made improvements to the world.” – Charnwood Primary School, Leicester

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

  • “I like that the author uses her own personal experiences which makes us feel close to her.” – Idsall school, Shifnall
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