Subaru of America and AAAS Announce Winners of 2023 Prize for Excellence in Science Books

CAMDEN, N.J., and WASHINGTON, March 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — 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 2023 winners of the AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books. The awards, which celebrate outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults, honor four titles ranging in subject from dinosaurs to digestion.

The prize-winning books for 2023 are:

  • “Fox: A Circle of Life Story by Isabel Thomas and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus”
  • “It Takes Guts: How Your Body Turns Food Into Fuel (and Poop) by Dr. Jennifer Gardy
  • “Funky Fungi: 30 Activities for Exploring Molds, Mushrooms, Lichens, and More by Alisha Gabriel and Sue Heavenrich
  • “The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World by Riley Black

Since 2005, Subaru of America and AAAS have partnered together to encourage the writing and publishing of even more high-quality science books for young readers – and to foster their interest in and appreciation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and inspire the next generation of scientists. With today’s announcement, the AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books has now honored 72 books and more than 100 authors and illustrators.

“AAAS is proud to partner with Subaru to recognize the prize-winning books for sharing science with young readers in an accurate and approachable way and helping to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Sudip S. Parikh, Ph.D., AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals.

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 that include age-appropriateness, scientific accuracy and clarity, and the depiction of people of a broad range of backgrounds engaging with science.

Winning authors and illustrators each receive $1,500 and a commemorative plaque and will be recognized at the 2023 AAAS Annual Meeting, held March 2-5 in Washington, D.C. Several winners will speak at the SciMic Stage and make appearances at the Subaru Loves Learning lounge in the exhibit hall.

“Subaru Loves Learning is all about giving students the tools to reach their full potential, and books are powerful tools of inspiration that not only inform, but help expand a child’s world,” said Thomas J. Doll, President and CEO, Subaru of America, Inc. “These prize-winning books were selected to empower an appreciation of STEM, unlocking a new generation of innovators.”

Learn more about each winning book, author and illustrator below:

Children’s Science Picture Book

Fox: A Circle of Life Story, by Isabel Thomas. Illustrated by Daniel Egnéus. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2021.

In the frost-covered forest of early spring, fox is on a mission to find food for her three cubs. As they grow, she teaches them how to survive in the wild. Until one day, fox dies. Her body goes back to earth and grass and air, nourishing the world around her and bringing the forest to life. Death is not just an end, it’s also a beginning.

With gorgeous illustrations and lyrical, kid-friendly text, Fox: A Circle of Life Story answers the big scientific question: What happens when animals die?

Isabel Thomas studied human sciences at the University of Oxford. She is a science writer and children’s author who has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize, the ASE Book of the Year, and the Blue Peter Book Awards. She is also a primary school governor and STEM ambassador. Her previous books include Moth: An Evolution Story, which was also illustrated by Daniel Egnéus. She lives in the UK.

Daniel Egnéus collaborated with Neil Gaiman on an illustrated edition of American Gods and also illustrated Moth: An Evolution Story, The Raven Child and the Snow Witch, and The Thing. He is a well-regarded fashion artist, too, regularly illustrating for the likes of Chanel, H&M, Nike, and many more. He was born in Sweden and now makes his home in Greece.

Middle Grades Science Book

It Takes Guts: How Your Body Turns Food Into Fuel (and Poop), by Dr. Jennifer Gardy. Illustrated by Belle Wuthrich. Greystone Kids, 2021.

Everybody eats, and everybody poops. Pretty ordinary stuff, right? But what happens in between is far from ordinary! That’s where your digestive system—also known as your gut—works its magic. It Takes Guts is an excellent, science-based resource for classroom learning and home-schooling for kids aged 9 to 13, with information about:

  • The surprising role that food and digestion play in your mood and immune system.
  • The amazing tools your body uses to break down food including acids, which do their thing without burning a hole in your stomach!
  • The incredible truth that not all bacteria are bad! Billions of “helpful bacteria” belong in your gut.

Dr. Jennifer Gardy is a scientist who has worked at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and is now part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Malaria team. She appears frequently on television programs such as CBC’s The Nature of Things and the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet. She lives in Chicago.

Hands-on Science Book

Funky Fungi: 30 Activities for Exploring Molds, Mushrooms, Lichens, and More, by Alisha Gabriel and Sue Heavenrich. Chicago Review Press, 2022.

They live in the coldest corner of Antarctica and on hot, sandy desert dunes. They’re in the air you breathe and the food you eat. But fungi are more than pizza toppings.

They form partnerships with plants and help us clean up our planet through bioremediation. Some fungi eat our crops; others protect them. Some fungi cause diseases; others cure them. Some are bigger than you; others are so tiny you need a microscope to see them. And now, people are finding ways to use fungi to make furniture, building materials, and even sneakers. So, grab your gear and let’s go find some Funky Fungi.

Alisha Gabriel is an elementary music teacher by day, and somehow finds the time to write fiction and nonfiction for children. She loves visiting schools and libraries to connect with her readers.

Sue Heavenrich writes about science and environmental issues and is passionate about insects. She began writing about our backyard science explorations for Home Education Magazine. Sue has followed ants in the Arizona desert, tagged bumblebees in the Rocky Mountains, and tallied insects on Cocos Island, Costa Rica.

Young Adult Science Book

The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World, by Riley Black. St. Martin’s Press, 2022.

In The Last Days of the Dinosaurs, Riley Black walks readers through what happened in the days, the years, the centuries, and the million years after the impact, tracking the sweeping disruptions that overtook this one spot, and imagining what might have been happening elsewhere on the globe. Life’s losses were sharp and deeply-felt, but the hope carried by the beings that survived sets the stage for the world as we know it now.

Picture yourself in the Cretaceous period. It’s a sunny afternoon in the Hell Creek of ancient Montana 66 million years ago. A Triceratops horridus ambles along the edge of the forest. In a matter of hours, everything here will be wiped away. Lush verdure will be replaced with fire. Tyrannosaurus rex will be toppled from their throne, along with every other species of non-avian dinosaur no matter their size, diet, or disposition. They just don’t know it yet.

The cause of this disaster was identified decades ago. An asteroid some seven miles across slammed into the Earth, leaving a geologic wound over 50 miles in diameter. In the terrible mass extinction that followed, more than half of known species vanished seemingly overnight. But this worst single day in the history of life on Earth was as critical for us as it was for the dinosaurs, as it allowed for evolutionary opportunities that were closed for the previous 100 million years.

Riley Black has been heralded as “one of our premier gifted young science writers” and is the critically-acclaimed author of Skeleton Keys, My Beloved Brontosaurus, Written in Stone, and When Dinosaurs Ruled. An online columnist for Scientific American, Riley has become a widely-recognized expert on paleontology and has appeared on programs such as Science Friday, HuffingtonPost Live, and All Things Considered. Riley has also written on nerdy pop culture.

About Subaru of America, Inc.  

Subaru of America, Inc. (SOA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Subaru Corporation of Japan. Headquartered at a zero-landfill office in Camden, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 630 retailers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. is the only U.S. automobile manufacturing plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. SOA is guided by the Subaru Love Promise, which is the company’s vision to show love and respect to everyone, and to support its communities and customers nationwide. Over the past 20 years, SOA and the SOA Foundation have donated more than $270 million to causes the Subaru family cares about, and its employees have logged nearly 78,000 volunteer hours. As a company, Subaru believes it is important to do its part in making a positive impact in the world because it is the right thing to do.  

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About American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For additional information about AAAS, visit

Diane Anton

Manager, Corporate Communications

Subaru of America, Inc.

[email protected]

(856) 488-5093

Andrea Korte

Digital Manager, AAAS

[email protected]   

(202) 326-6440

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