This week the AAAS/SubaruSB&F announced their 2015 nominations Prize for Excellence in Science Books in the children’s, middle grade, and hands-on categories. Here is a quick look at the titles they are considering for top honors.

In the middle grade science category, let’s start with Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey (Junior Library Guild Selection) by Loree Griffin Burns and with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz, which I reviewed here back in February.


Have you ever wondered where the beautiful butterflies in butterfly exhibits come from? Handle with Care answers that question with a trip to a butterfly farm in Costa Rica. “Read it and watch children’s imaginations take flight!”

Age Range: 6 – 10
Series: Junior Library Guild Selection (Millbrook Press)
Publisher: Millbrook Pr Trade (January 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0761393420
ISBN-13: 978-0761393429

Another nominee in the middle grade science category is Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman, with photographs by Annie Crawley,   reviewed here in January.

Plastic Ahoy! introduces the reader to the experiences of three graduate students who spend three weeks taking samples from what is called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” They find out the plastic is breaking down into small pieces, some of which are being consumed by fish. The small pieces are also being used as habitat for other organisms. Plastic Ahoy! shows we have much to learn about plastic that ends up in the water. It is great read for those interested in oceans.

Recommended Ages:  8-12
Publisher: Millbrook Pr Trade (January 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1467712833
ISBN-13: 978-1467712835

Over at our sister blog Wrapped in Foil, we previously reviewed nominee The The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle.

The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees is a compelling story about the beekeepers recent problems with Colony Collapse Disorder. It mixes hard science, a complicated mystery, and a very real consequences to our dinner tables, all into one well-researched and well-organized bundle. As you can see from the cover, the illustrations are fabulous as well.

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group (August 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1467705926
ISBN-13: 978-1467705929

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman is an additional middle grade nominee with a strong environmental message.

This book isn’t only about the science of environmental issues, but also about the politics, history, and psychology.

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (September 23, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763675458
ISBN-13: 978-0763675455

Rounding out the middle grade category is Mission: Mars by Pascal Lee.

Not exactly traditional nonfiction, this book instead shows what is possible by revealing the latest designs for spacesuits and exploration rovers that might be used on future missions to Mars. Learn what is needed to be ready to go to the red planet.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Inc. (October 29, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0545565324
ISBN-13: 978-0545565325

Nominees in the children’s picture book category:

We were glad to see Parrots Over Puerto Rico (Americas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Winner) by Cindy Trumbore and illustrated by Susan L. Roth was nominated. We reviewed it at our sister blog Wrapped in Foil last year.

It is the fascinating story of the Puerto Rican parrot, tied in a unique way with the history of the island of Puerto Rico. Once numbering in the millions, the parrots have faced lost of nesting sites due to hurricanes and deforestation, plus competition and predation from introduced species like black rats and pearly-eyed thrashers. Over time, fewer and fewer parrots have survived.

“Pick it up for units on birds in science class, or for discussions of environmental issues and conservation. It also has an important place in units on U. S. history, because the history of Puerto Rico is covered in detail. Add darling parrots and the ongoing drama of whether they are going to survive and it truly is outstanding.”

Age Range: 6 – 11 years
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (October 20, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1620140047
ISBN-13: 978-1620140048

Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm was released late last month.

With the combination of Caldecott Artist Molly Bang and M.I.T. professor Penny Chisholm, Buried Sunlight is sure to shine.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press (September 30, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0545577853
ISBN-13: 978-0545577854

Books about birds have been very popular with children in the last few years. Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray and illustrated by Kenard Pak contrasts the calls of neighboring birds with how quiet an incubating bird is.

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? is a treat for young ornithologists learning their birds and bird calls.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (March 18, 2014)
ISBN-10: 054410580X
ISBN-13: 978-0544105805

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies and illustrated Emily Sutton is a timely addition to any library.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3
Publisher: Candlewick (August 26, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763673153
ISBN-13: 978-0763673154

The last (and best!) category is Hands-on Science Books for Children.

Our absolute favorite book this year was nominated in this category: Plant a Pocket of Prairie by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Betsy Bowen (our previous review).


Plant a Pocket of Prairie specifically explores the prairies of Minnesota, but has a much more general appeal and a serious message that can apply anywhere.

Phyllis Root’s free verse text starts out by explaining,

“Almost all gone now
to farm and town and city,
even before we knew
all of the things a prairie could do.”

She then highlights examples of relationships between specific plants and animals in the prairie ecosystem, such as between foxglove beardtongue (a type of Penstemon) and hummingbirds; monarch butterflies and milkweeds; and goldfinches and sunflowers. The back matter includes lists of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, insects, and plants commonly found in prairies. Each example comes with a call to action to plant your own prairie, whether in pots, gardens or landscapes. If enough people do this, who knows what might be achieved.

Ages 5-10
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (April 15, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0816679800
ISBN-13: 978-0816679805

The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature (BBG Guides for a Greener Planet) by (none less than) the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Educators and illustrated by László Veres is both an identification guide and nature activity book.

The activities are organized by season (list of activity titles here). It also includes summaries of common careers, such as nature educator and field biologist. Edit:  We now have a full review at Wrapped in Foil blog.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Hardcover: 120 pages
Publisher: Brooklyn Botanic Garden (August 5, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1889538884
ISBN-13: 978-1889538884

I don’t know how I missed this title by one of my favorite publishers, Chicago Review Press. Junk Drawer Physics: 50 Awesome Experiments That Don’t Cost a Thing by Bobby Mercer mixes step-by-step instructions for experiments (over 50!) with sidebars of intriguing physics facts.


Using inexpensive household items to do interesting hands-on science? It doesn’t get any better than this.

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 4 and up
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (June 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1613749201
ISBN-13: 978-1613749203


Congratulations to all the nominees!

Disclosures: Some of the books mentioned were provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


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