Amidst the hubbub for Valentine’s Day comes the announcements of the winners of the Cybils awards. Since we are also hosting STEM Friday today, let’s look at the STEM titles that were nominated in the Elementary/Middle-Grade Nonfiction category, as well as reveal the winner.


Quite a few strong STEM books were nominated for Cybils awards last year and four made it to the finalist round. The three runner-ups were:


The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a rare treat.

This picture book biography explores the life of Paul Erdös, who thought about math all day, even when he was a young boy. In fact, he was so busy thinking about numbers that he never really learned to tie his shoes or other basic life skills (his mother and nanny did all those things for him). It isn’t until he was 21 and attended a meeting of mathematicians for the first time that he buttered his own bread!

The illustrations in this book are ingenious. LeUyen Pham includes three pages of illustrator notes in the back to explain all the math she has incorporated into them. I’m sure we will be hearing more about her work in the future.

Important messages the book contains:

  • Math can be exciting and interesting
  • It is okay to be different from everyone else

Paul Erdös is an amazing, unique human being and Heiligman’s passion for her topic is palpable, yielding a biography as special, lovable and one-of-a-kind as its subject. Share it today!

Age Range: 3 – 8 years
Hardcover: 44 pages
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (June 25, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1596433078
ISBN-13: 978-1596433076


Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Susan Swan

Children are definitely interested volcanoes, but too often children’s books focus on the sensational, explosive aspects. Volcano Rising is different, because it explains not only what volcanoes are, but also how they can be a positive force by creating new land and adding nutrients to the soil. The text has two layers, with one layer of simple text meant to be read aloud and the other for those who want to delve more deeply into what volcanoes are all about.

See related post about volcanoes with activities (includes a previous review of this book)

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge (August 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1580894089
ISBN-13: 978-1580894081


How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge

Judge compares dinosaurs to common objects in a fun romp. Children will probably be surprised how small and how big some of the dinosaurs were. In the back is a fold out section that explains more about each dinosaur. If you are going to read this book aloud, you might want to take a gander at that section first, because it contains pronunciation guides to some of the tongue-twister names.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (August 27, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1596437197
ISBN-13: 978-1596437197

And, now, drumroll please…

This year’s winner is a STEM book!



Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Cate utilizes a conversational style and humorous cartoon illustrations that are sure to attract children to give birdwatching a try. Although targeting middle grade, it will appeal to a broad range of ages.

Look Up! was also chosen as a 2014 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book.

Activity suggestion:  It would be a perfect book to accompany the Great Backyard Bird Count, which is being held this weekend.

great-backyard bird count 2014

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (March 12, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0763645613
ISBN-13: 978-0763645618


Disclosures:  I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.


Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.