Public Release: 

AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Film Prizes celebrate the legacy of Henrietta Lacks, environmental science and science literacy

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Four science books exploring global climate change, the collapse of honey bee colonies, 50 daring experiments, and the gripping tale of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells gave rise to the now-ubiquitous HeLa cell line, earned top honors in the 2010 AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Film (SB&F) competition.

This year's prizes--which promote science literacy by showcasing the importance of good science writing and illustration--recognize the work of four authors as well as an illustrator and a photographer. AAAS and Subaru of America, Inc. co-sponsor the prizes to recognize recently published works that are scientifically sound and foster an understanding and appreciation of science in readers of all ages.

"These prizes encourage science literacy in children and young adults by recognizing authors who convey the excitement of science in ways that engage young minds," said Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of its journals, Science, Science Translational Medicine, and Science Signaling.

The prizes this year recognized efforts across four categories: Children's Science Picture Books, Middle Grades Science Books, Young Adult Science Books, and Hands-on Science Book. Topics addressed by this year's winning entries include biomedicine, climate change from the perspective of The Magic School Bus, and an array of experiments intended for adventurous young investigators.

The winning books typically wind up in libraries, said Heather Malcomson, editor of SB&F, who administers the AAAS/Subaru competition. Podcast interviews with the winning authors and lesson plans based on the books are other ways that the prize fosters scientific literacy, she added.

Winners will receive their prizes--$1,500 and a plaque--during the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting. The awards ceremony will take place on 19 February 2011 at 6:00 pm in the Grand Hyatt, Wilson-Roosevelt Room, Washington, DC.

"Subaru of America is proud to continue its support of the AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Film (SB&F) competition," said Tim Mahoney, senior vice president and CMO, Subaru of America, Inc. "Congratulations to the winners for their outstanding contribution to science writing and illustration."

The 2010 prize recipients are:

Winning Children's Science Picture Book

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge
Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic, NY

Ms. Frizzle, the amazing fictional teacher who has starred in Magic School Bus adventures for more than 20 years, takes her class on yet another fantastical adventure in this installment. The school bus transforms into a plane that whisks the class off to the Arctic and other areas affected by global climate change. Student "reports" in the margins of the book provide facts about climate-change science and the choices society must face in order to confront the problem. As they learn about the greenhouse effect, students slide to Earth on sunbeams and then float back up as heat, only to hit greenhouse gases that send them back down through atmospheric carbon dioxide. Whimsical illustrations enliven scientific concepts being enacted through the students' adventures with Ms. Frizzle.

Additional Finalists in this Category:

Bones, by Steve Jenkins (Scholastic, NY);
Lizards, by Nic Bishop (Scholastic, NY); and
Do Elephants Need the Sun? by Robert E. Wells (Albert Whitman, Park Ridge, IL)

Winning Middle Grades Science Book

The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe
Author: Loree Griffin Burns
Photographer: Ellen Harasimowicz
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, Boston

Readers of this book explore the cause of the catastrophic loss of honey bees, known as "colony collapse disorder." A true environmental mystery, scientists are continuing to investigate the sudden disappearance, beginning in 2006, of so many bees that provide honey and also pollinate crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. The book introduces readers to hobbyists and commercial beekeepers. It also describes the work of scientists conducting bee autopsies and searching for possible disease culprits, from mites and bacteria to viral pathogens and pesticides. The researchers' methods, equipment, and findings are summarized within this book, which also describes bee anatomy, development and social behavior.

Additional Finalists in this Category:

Kakopo Rescue: Saving the World's Largest Parrot, by Sy Montgomery with photographer Nic Bishop (Houghton Mifflin, Boston);
The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing, by Suzanne Jurmain (Houghton Mifflin, Boston); and
The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder, by Mark Cassino, with John Nelson (Chronicle, San Francisco).

Winning Young Adult Science Book

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: Rebecca Skloot
Publisher: Macmillan, London

The cell line HeLa has powered the rapid growth of cell biology over the past 50 years. Yet, little is known about the origin of the now-ubiquitous cells. Rebecca Skloot's book eloquently interweaves researchers' stories with the life of Henrietta Lacks (whose cervical cancer cells gave rise to the HeLa cell line). Skloot's rich, carefully crafted narrative encompasses the reactions of members of the Lacks family, and serves as a reminder of the humanity shared by the afflicted and the researchers who work to understand and overcome diseases.

Additional Finalists in this Category:

The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference, by Alan Boyle (Wiley, NY);
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, by Sam Kean (Little, Brown, NY); and
Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discovery, Deductions, and Debates, by Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw (Charlesbridge, Watertown, MA).

Winning Hands-on Science Book

The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science: 50 Experiments for Daring Young Scientists
Author: Sean Connolly
Publisher: Workman, NY

Whereas many science "how-to" guides present a hodgepodge of standard experiments, Sean Connolly builds his book around the major scientific and technological breakthroughs of more than two million years of human history. From the first stone tools crafted by Homo erectus to the Large Hadron Collider now being used to accelerate particles to speeds approaching that of light, Connolly describes advances and then presents one or more experiments to demonstrate underlying principles in a breezy, engaging style. The speed of light can be estimated using a microwave oven, marshmallows, and a ruler, for example, and DNA can be spooled onto a skewer after it's isolated from a half-eaten banana. The book includes a "catastrophe meter," indicating the appropriate level of adult supervision for each experiment.

Additional Finalists in this Category:

Insect Detective, by Steve Voake, with illustrator Charlotte Voake (Candlewick, Somerville, MA);
Nature Science Experiments: What's Hopping in a Dust Bunny, by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, with illustrator Edward Miller (Sterling, NY); and
You Are the Earth: Know Your World So You Can Help Make It Better, by David Suzuki and Kathy Vanerlinden, with illustrator Wallace Edwards (Greystone, Vancouver, Canada).

Background on the Prizes

The prizes began in 2005 when four lifetime achievement awards were given to authors of children's science books. It honored authors whose books promoted science literacy. Today, the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books continues to recognize stand-out science books.

Finalists were selected by a group of judges made up of librarians, scientists, and science literacy experts. The judges selected the 16 finalists out of nearly 175 books up for consideration across all four categories.

Winning books tend to have great storylines, Malcomson noted. The award also works towards breaking stereotypes attached to reading science literature. "A lot of the time, people think of nonfiction as dry or boring," she said. "These books have fun pictures and great stories, and we're trying to get more eyes on them. We want to show that science books are fun."

Malcomson said the hands-on books that shine are those that allow readers to think for themselves. The activities in the books should be inquiry-based and go beyond the basic step by step procedure. The hands-on books help kids explore topics in ways beyond just reading the book.


About AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( as well as Science Translational Medicine ( and Science Signaling ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

For more information on AAAS awards, see

About Subaru of America, Inc.

Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of nearly 600 dealers across the United States. Subaru makes the best-selling All-Wheel Drive car sold in America based on R.L. Polk & Co. new vehicle retail registration statistics calendar year-end 2007. In addition, Subaru boasts the most fuel efficient line-up of all-wheel drive products sold in the market today based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy standards. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero- landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. For additional information visit

About Science Books & Film (SB&F)

Since 1965, Science Books & Film (SB&F) has been the authoritative guide to science resources, bringing expert information to bear on choices of materials for a library, classroom or institution. Published by AAAS, SB&F is the only critical review journal devoted exclusively to print and nonprint materials in all of the sciences and for all age groups. Every year, SB&F ( ) evaluates nearly 1,000 books, videos, DVDs and software packages for general audiences, professionals, teachers and students from kindergarten through college.

The awards will be bestowed at the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on Saturday, 19 February. (See For more information on these or other AAAS awards, go to

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.