Information Book Award 2018

by Jayne Gould, School Librarian and Judge, IBA

Having been involved with the School Library’ Associations Information Book Award since its inception, I was once again privileged to be part of the judging panel to select this year’s winners. The process started in January when the members of the panel received parcels containing the titles submitted in each of the three age categories, Under 7, 7-12 and 12-16.  These were read, notes taken and favourites selected to be discussed at the first meeting. Here, passionate debate ensued to whittle down about one hundred books to a shortlist of ten. These were then pored over and submitted to experts for fact checking [after all this is an information book award, so the information must be correct!] before we decided on the winning titles.

This year the quality of the books was as high as ever – publishers large and small are producing innovative, engaging and attractive books on a range of subjects which is shown by the titles selected for the shortlist. These include aspects of the natural world, exploring science and life experience and all are outstanding books in their coverage and treatment of their topics.

Writing information books for the youngest children is a special skill, having to be concise and appropriate whilst still covering the main facts and recognising that there will be an adult sharing the books with the child. The illustrations will be an essential element, whether photographs, drawings or paintings.

The photographs in Look I’m a Scientist by Various Authors ISBN 9780241231074 (Dorling Kindersley) will certainly stimulate children’s natural scientific curiosity, and encourage them to learn whilst having fun, exploring and experimenting using each of the five senses. With prompts for thinking, questioning and talking, this is ideal for use at home or in the classroom.

Books are vital in helping children to understand other people’s lives and build empathy which is done superbly in the very positive and celebratory  Proud to be Deaf by Ava, Lilli,Nick Beese and Romina Marti ISBN 9781526302182 (Wayland). Ava is deaf and she’s proud of it. In this engaging book, which is illustrated throughout with photographs of Ava and her family and with drawings from British Sign Language, she introduces the reader to her everyday life, to deaf achievers and BSL.

A visit to the seaside reveals miniature habitats to explore and Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver ISBN 9781406358773 (Walker Books) will help children identify any discoveries they make. Lift the flaps to discover the creatures which make the rock pool their home. Illustrations in sea-washed colours and lyrical text combine to bring this hidden world to life.

The four books on the 7-12 shortlist reflect the wealth of choice available for this age group. Infographics are a colourful way to impart a large amount of information, as shown in 100 Things to Know About Food by Various Authors and illustrated by Parko Polo and Mariani Federico ISBN 9781409598619 (Usborne).Packed with fascinating facts about food and useful things to know, it is ideal for dipping into or browsing.

Dinosaurs are a perennial favourite with children and it can be difficult to come up with a fresh approach, This is achieved in outstanding style in Dinosaur Atlas by Anne Rooney and James Gilleard ISBN 9781786577184 (Lonely Planet) where a wealth of information, revealed by unfolding maps and lifting flaps, is accompanied by some incredible life size photographs of bones, teeth and claws,

Young fans of the weird and supernatural will find much to delight them in Real-Life Mysteries – Can You Explain the Unexplained? by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker ISBN 9781911509080 (b small publishing]. With its valuable and well explained emphasis on evidence gathering and informed theories it is an engaging read.

Wolves have often been misunderstood and misrepresented in literature but The Ways of the Wolf by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Jonathan Woodward ISBN 9781526360304 (Wren & Rook) seeks to dispel many of the myths. This visually stunning large format picture book explores the natural history of the animal and is endorsed by the UK Wolf Conservation 

Understanding and engaging with the world and current concerns are the themes for the books on the 12-18 shortlist , where issues can be discussed in more depth. The dramatic graphic novel  Escape From Syria by Samya Kullab, Jackie Roche and Mike Freiheit ISBN 9781770859821 (Firefly Books)  tells one family’s story after an air strike destroys their home. As a journalist one of the authors witnessed for himself the plight of refugees.

Told from differing perspectives, From Prejudice to Pride: A History of the LGBTQ+ Movement by Amy Lamé ISBN 9781526301901 (Wayland)  gives a balanced  and rounded overview of the history of LGBTQ+ developments and culture and the challenges faced, without blame, judgement or sensationalism.

Anyone with an interest in nature will find Explanatorium of Nature by Various Authors ISBN 9780241286845 (Dorling Kindersley) both informative and fascinating. This wide-ranging and beautifully illustrated encyclopaedia covers a huge amount of information, with larger than life-size detail adding wow factor.

The presentation ceremony took place last night, November 7th, at the Hachette Children’s Group offices at Carmelite House in London

From a very strong shortlist we are delighted to announce that the winning titles of the Information Book Award 2018 are:

Under 7: Look, I’m a Scientist

7-12: Dinosaur Atlas

12-16 From Prejudice to Pride: A History of the LGBTQ+ Movement

Overall: Look, I’m a Scientist

Right from the beginning of the Award, it was felt vital that children’s voices were heard in the judging process, so children across the country are invited to vote for their choices. The winners in the Children’s Choice Award are:

7 and under: Look I’m a Scientist 

7-12: 100 Things to Know About Food 

12-16: Escape From Syria 

This is a guest post from Jayne Gould, acknowledging other members of the judging panel, whose words she used in some of the descriptions of the books. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the FCBG. 

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