The K-12 education children's book committee reads children's science books and awards the best the DeBary Awards. There is a slight bias towards botany and biological science, but books on all topics, from Astronomy to Zoology, are considered. Nominators should submit the title and author of the book and briefly explain the merits of the book. Nominations can come from APS members or nonmembers. The committee will read nominated books and select the best. The deadline to submit candidates is August 30. 2015. We cannot accept free copies of books, but we are happy to look at pdf versions sent by email. Contact Nina Shishkoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The committee for the American Phytopathological Society DeBary Award for Outstanding Children’s Science Books is happy to announce this year’s winners:
For younger readers, “Budding Biologist: Where Do I live?”
For older readers, “The Good Garden: How One Family Went From Hunger to Having Enough”.
We received an outstanding selection of nominations this year and all books are listed below in alphabetical order:
Budding Biologist: Am I an insect? 2012. by Kristine Duel, Katy Castronovo, Illus. Art Bookbindery, Canada. $9.99. This book tries to teach very young kids deductive reasoning by asking them if various animals are insects and then explaining why or why not. We scientists had quibbles with the over-all logic (there are more obvious reasons why a hummingbird is not an insect than the reason listed, and kids will know that). The illustrations are nice and the book is affordable.
Budding Biologist: Where do I live? 2013. by Kristine Duel, Katy Castronovo, Illus. Self Publishing, Inc., USA. . $9.99. We liked this Budding Biologist book a lot better than the insect one. Kids get to match animals to their natural habitat based on observations of their coloring, ear size, etc. There are extra questions the kids are asked about the animals ("What else about the cheetah might help it hide in the yellow grass?") for which no answer is provided, so you might want to prepare your answer ahead of time. There is a glossary at the end.
Crazy for Science with Carmelo the Science Fellow. 2015, by Carmelo Piazza and James Buckley. POW!/PowerHouse Books. $13.46. Very antic science project book for K-3, including old favorites like the erupting baking soda volcano. The layouts are busy, and you’ll have to be prepared to tell kids they *cannot* bring mealworms into the house, but this book will be mined for ideas.
Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives. 2013. by Lola M. Schaefer, Christopher Silas Neal, Illus. Chronical Books, LLC, CA. $17.99. An unusual counting book that begins "In one lifetime, this spider will spin 1 papery egg sac" and then proceeds to give numbers for how many times a given animal does a given thing during its lifetime (build nests, shed antlers), accompanied by beautiful woodcut-like illustrations. If you want to teach a child about death without ever using the word or being depressing, this book will help. Afterward there is a list of the animals (with genus and species) with more information about their life cycle, and then a page that explains "What is an average?".
The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science: Poems for the School Year Integrating Science, Reading, and Language Arts, Third Grade Student Edition. 2014, compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Pomelo Books, NJ, $26.00. Our panel was divided about this book, loving or loathing it. Some of the poems are good; some of the science is accurate. There is a glossary and list of websites at the end.
Sardis and Stamm. 2013. by Matthew P. Bettelheim, Nicole M. Wong Illus. Friends of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California. $6.99. This book takes children on a short journey through the Antioch Dunes in the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge in the San Francisco Bay Area. As you read the story, written in rhyme form, children are led through the dunes by Sardis, a young girl who happens upon an endangered Lange's metalmark butterfly and names it Stamm since it "stammers through the air". On her hike through the dunes we are introduced to some history of the site and the various species of plants and animals that inhabit the refuge. A map of the region as well as additional information on each species introduced in the book (scientific names and a paragraph describing their biology and ecology) are provided at the back of the book. The book is well written, nicely illustrated and informative. The associated website is well laid out and complements the book nicely.
50 Body Questions: A Book That Spills Its Guts. 2014. Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Ross Kinnaird, Illus. Annick Press Ltd., NY. $14.95. A book of random facts (often gross) about the human body, with cartoonlike illustrations. There is no rigorous framework of scientific inquiry here, but it will be read and reread. There is a glossary, list of further reading, and list of sources.
The Good Garden: How One Family Went From Hunger to Having Enough. 2010. Katie Smith Milway, Sylvie Daigneault, illus. Kids Can Press Ltd, NY. $18.95. A Honduran family learns ecologically sound agricultural techniques from a teacher and then prospers. The lovely illustrations are influenced by Magical-Realism and while there's no science in the book per se, the agriculture is sound and well-described. There are activities listed in the back of the book (volunteer at a food bank; hold a fundraiser).
SURVIVE! INSIDE THE HUMAN BODY, Volume 1: The Digestive System. 2013. By Gomdori co. and Hyun-dong Han, Illus. No Starch Press, CA. $17.95 Korean anime-style comic book about a kid and a scientist travelling through a human digestive tract, encountering much grossness. Accurate facts and a comic book style appealing to kids who like anime.
Thanks to our committee: Margot Becktell, Albert Culbreath, Margery Daughtrey, Margaret McGrath, Diana Sherman, and Nina Shishkoff.