Subaru of America and AAAS Announce Winners of 2024 Prize for Excellence in Science Books

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Subaru of America, Inc., and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, today announced the 2024 winners of the AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books. The awards, which for nearly 20 years have recognized exceptional books about science that engage readers of all ages, this year honor books on subjects ranging from the noises of nature to the scale of the solar system.

The prize-winning books for 2024 are:

  • Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-floor Ecosystem by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Rob Dunlavey.
  • The Planets Are Very, Very, Very Far Away: A Journey Through the Amazing Scale of the Solar System by Mike Vago.
  • Human Body Learning Lab: Take an Inside Tour of How Your Anatomy Works by Dr. Betty Choi.
  • The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants by Karen Bakker.

Since 2005, Subaru of America and AAAS have partnered to encourage the writing and publishing of high-quality science books for young audiences – and to boost their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and inspire the next generation of scientists.

“AAAS believes that, through good science books, this generation, and the next, will have a better understanding and appreciation of science,” said Sarah Ingraffea, the AAAS/Subaru Book Prize Award manager at AAAS.

Awards are given in four categories: Children’s Science Picture Book, Middle Grades Science Book, Hands-on Science Book and Young Adult Science Book. Judging panels composed of librarians, educators, scientists, and literacy experts evaluate each submission according to detailed criteria tailored to each category that include age-appropriateness, scientific accuracy, and the examination of scientific concepts without perpetuating stereotypes or misconceptions.

This year, the judges received a record number of submissions. With today’s announcement, the AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books has now honored 76 books and more than 100 authors and illustrators.

The author of each winning book and the illustrator of the children’s book will receive a $1,500 prize and a commemorative plaque.

“Together with AAAS, we have the opportunity to spark a child’s imagination related to science, technology, engineering and math,” said Jeff Walters, President and Chief Operating Officer, Subaru of America, Inc. “This year’s prize-winning books can help inspire a lifelong love of curiosity, learning, and innovation.”

Learn more about the 2024 award-winning books, writers and illustrator:

Children’s Science Picture Book
Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-floor Ecosystem, by Melissa Stewart. Illustrated by Rob Dunlavey. Random House Studio, 2023.

Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-floor Ecosystem captures the end of a whale’s life, during which they silently sink to the ocean floor and become a food source for the dwellers of the deep sea, from sharks to microbes, for many decades to come.

Melissa Stewart has written more than 200 science books for children, including the Sibert Medal Honoree Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. She holds a degree in biology from Union College in Schenectady, NY, and a master’s degree in science journalism from New York University. While gathering research for her books, she’s explored tropical rain forests in Costa Rica, gone on safari in East Africa, and swum with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands.

Rob Dunlavey is a fine artist and children’s book illustrator. His recent titles include Whale Fall by Melissa StewartIn the Woods by David Elliott, and Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin. A native of the tall-grass prairie and oak savannas of suburban Chicago, Dunlavey studied at the Art Institute of ChicagoSouthern Illinois University, and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. Rob is married and has two daughters and two cats—but no whales.

Middle Grades Science Book
The Planets Are Very, Very, Very Far Away: A Journey Through the Amazing Scale of the Solar System, by Mike Vago. The Experiment, 2022.

In its pages that open out not once but twice, The Planets Are Very, Very, Very Far Away dismantles the myth of nine planets orbiting the sun in tidy concentric circle and shows the true scale and vastness of our solar system.

Mike Vago is the creator of the bestselling The Miniature Book of Miniature GolfThe Pocket Book of Pocket Billiards, and the interactive board books Train and Rocket. He’s a graphic designer and a regular contributor to The A.V. Club. He tells people he lives in New York, but he actually lives in New Jersey.

Hands-on Science Book
Human Body Learning Lab: Take an Inside Tour of How Your Anatomy Works, by Dr. Betty Choi. Storey Publishing, 2022.

Aimed at kids age 8 and up, Human Body Learning Lab details each major body system and leads readers through hands-on activities that range from making a moving model of the eyes to creating a working model of the urinary system.

Dr. Betty Choi is a pediatrician, medical writer, and former homeschooling parent. From her roots at Boston Children’s Hospital to over a decade of work in education, she is passionate about making learning memorable and meaningful. Her debut book, Human Body Learning Lab, teaches kids about their amazing bodies through fun, hands-on activities. The accompanying website, HumanBodyLearning.com, offers more resources for curious kids, parents, and teachers.

Young Adult Science Book
The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants, by Karen BakkerPrinceton University Press, 2022.

The Sounds of Life explores not just the many sounds created by plants and animals but how groundbreaking technology and traditional knowledge has deepened humanity’s understanding of those sounds – and affirmed our connection with nature.

Karen Bakker was a scholar at the University of British Columbia and entrepreneur who worked at the crossroads of technology and ecology. The author of seven books and more than 100 scholarly articles, Bakker also led The Smart Earth Project, which explores the impacts of digital technologies on environmental sustainability. In a tremendous loss to the many communities of learning she inhabited and impacted, Bakker passed away in August 2023, before this latest recognition for The Sounds of Life.

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Her fiction writing has received the Author / Ambassador at Library Journal Self-e Authors, Winner Queen of the West Reader Favorite Award, Amazon Bestseller - Historical, Double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories. Writing humorous cozy mysteries and romantic comedy, Jocie can find humor in most everything, even when she shouldn't. She lives in the Midwest on Dust Bunny Farm with her family.