R.I.P. Alice Munro (1931 – 2024)

“Compared to Anton Chekhov for her peerless short stories for which she won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, Alice Munro (left) has died.FULL STORY

 

Science Writers award longlist

May 14th, 2024

The following BC based authors have made it to the longlist of the 2023 Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Book Awards. The award was founded to recognize the richness and diversity of science writing in Canada, and this year’s longlist includes over 50 titles. The winners will be announced in September, 2024, during the Science Literacy Week.

Author Amanda Swinimer (at right) was nominated for her book, The Science and Superpowers of Seaweed (Harbour $24.95). This middle-grade, family-friendly book introduces the enchanting world of seaweed, where kelp forests grow tall and rainbow seaweeds shimmer like gemstones. Young readers will discover fun activities like hunting for the seaweed named “dead man’s fingers” to squeeze like a squirt gun, popping rockweed, and making seaweed art. Seaweed is crucial for planetary health, producing oxygen, regulating temperature, and providing habitats for sea creatures. It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals. The book, filled with colorful illustrations and activities, explores seaweed science, sustainable harvesting and fun facts about marine life, covering both Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Rachelle Delaney

Rachelle Delaney’s novel, The Big Sting (Tundra Books $11.99) for ages 8-12, follows eleven-year-old Leo, an “armchair adventurer,” who prefers books and video games over real-life experiences. During a visit to his grumpy grandfather’s farm on Heron Island, Leo’s world turns upside down when his grandmother’s beloved beehives are stolen. Despite his risk-averse natu re, Leo gets pulled into an adventure with his daring sister Lizzie and their determined Grandpa, who is grieving the recent loss of his wife. Together, they embark on a quest to recover the beehives, facing various challenges and bonding along the way, accompanied by a mischievous kitten named Mayhem.

Philippa Joly

A Kid’s Guide to Plants of the Pacific Northwest: with Cool Facts, Activities and Recipes (Harbour $26.95) for 6-12 years by herbalist and outdoor educator Philippa Joly is a guide that introduces Pacific Northwest flora through engaging outdoor activities, games and quizzes, making nature exploration fun for families and educators. Kids can dig up roots, observe carnivorous plants, taste miner’s lettuce, and embark on scavenger hunts. They can also make plantain salve and learn to identify edible and toxic berries. Outdoor activities boost children’s confidence, attention span, physical health and environmental care, essential amid rising technology use and climate challenges. Joly offers over fifty illustrated plant profiles, highlighting identification, ecology, Indigenous uses and hands-on activities to connect with nature, even in urban settings.

David Suzuki

Inspired by his own adventures with his grandkids, David Suzuki along with Tanya Lloyd Kyi wrote Bompa’s Insect Expedition (Greystone Kids $23.95) for ages 4-8. The story follows twins who discover a fascinating world of insects as they start exploring just outside their home with their grandfather, Bompa. They encounter world-champion flyers, eaters and weightlifters, and learn to appreciate the incredible feats and essential roles of even the most annoying bugs. With colourful illustrations by Qin Leng, this picture book offers amazing insect facts, tips on helping bugs thrive, and celebrates the fun shared between grandparents and grandchildren.

Lyn Baldwin

Drawing Botany Home: A Rooted Life (Rocky Mountain Books $30.00) is a beautifully illustrated natural history memoir by botanist and artist Lyn Baldwin, exploring the profound connections between people and plants. Returning to her childhood home in southern British Columbia for a new job, Lyn confronts the impact of her itinerant lifestyle on her sense of place and professional assumptions. Through her field journal, she merges art and science, learning from the plants around her. This journey helps her reconcile personal and historical traumas, offering metaphors for understanding the complexities of settler/Indigenous relations and her own difficult past. The memoir emphasizes re-storying our relationship with local plants as a step toward global restoration.

Nicole F. Smith

Archaeologist and educator, Nicole F. Smith’s book, Dig Deep: Connecting Archaeology, Oceans and Us (Orca $21.95) for 9-12 years, explores how archaeology and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge reveal the historical relationship between humans and marine environments, and the impacts of climate change. For over 100,000 years, humans have interacted with the oceans, from harvesting herring eggs to hunting whales. Young readers will discover how ancient tools, campsites, fishing technologies and garbage found at archaeological sites worldwide provide insights into our ancestors’ lives and ocean use. These findings can offer valuable clues for maintaining healthier oceans today and in the future.

Yolanda Ridge

In this non-fiction book, Evolution Under Pressure: How We Change Nature and How Nature Changes Us (Annick Press $15.83) for children 8 and above, award-winning author Yolanda Ridge explores the ongoing nature of evolution and the significant impact human activities like hunting, farming and urban development have on the environment. Highlighting STEM and social justice themes, the book connects anthropology, biology and ecology to show how these changes affect species worldwide and contribute to climate change. Ridge emphasizes that our choices can shape a sustainable future for all life forms. Featuring profiles of young activists and vibrant illustrations by Dane Thibeault, the book inspires readers to understand interconnectedness and take action to restore ecological balance.

John Vaillant

John Vaillant’s book, Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast (Knopf $20.00) offers a stunning account of the colossal wildfire at Fort McMurray in May 2016, which devastated Canada’s petroleum hub, melted vehicles, incinerated neighborhoods, and displaced 88,000 people. This multi-billion-dollar disaster serves as a dire warning of the escalating fire threats in a hotter, more flammable world. Vaillant explores the deep historical relationship between humans and fire, highlighting its role in our evolution and civilization. As climate change intensifies, fire’s destructive power becomes increasingly uncontrollable. Through compelling prose and vivid storytelling, Vaillant connects the histories of the oil industry, climate science and modern forest fires, portraying lives forever altered by these fiery catastrophes.

Frances Backhouse

Grizzly Bears: Guardians of the Wilderness (Orca $24.95) for 9-12 years by biologist and environmental journalist, Frances Backhouse, aims to help children see beyond stereotypes of terrifying grizzlies and embrace conservation efforts. Once widespread across North America, grizzly populations have drastically declined, especially in populated areas. This richly illustrated book delves into grizzly biology and their crucial role in ecological communities, highlighting their symbolic importance to wilderness. It features insights from conservationists, scientists, Indigenous Peoples and young activists dedicated to ensuring the survival of grizzlies. Readers are encouraged to consider the challenges and responsibilities of coexisting with these iconic creatures to preserve them for the future.

Reuben George

Author Reuben George, co-written with Michael Simpson, delves into George’s personal account of confronting colonization and advocating for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s rights against the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion in It Stops Here: Standing Up for Our Lands, Our Waters, and Our People (Allen Lane $24.00). This profound story highlights the spiritual, cultural and political resurgence of the Tsleil-Waututh, who are reclaiming their lands, waters, laws and food systems. George shares his family’s deep ancestral ties to their unceded territories around Vancouver and Burrard Inlet, recounting their intergenerational struggle against colonial harms. Combining memoir and call to action, the book urges society to honor Indigenous laws and prioritize the sacred over extractive industries, advocating for respect and protection of unceded lands.

Bambi Edlund

Author and Illustrator, Bambi Edlund’s book, Operation Cupcake: How Simple Machines Work (Kids Can Press $21.99) for 7-10 years, is a humorous tale that follows two resourceful mice, Ginger and Mac, as they embark on a daring quest for a vanilla cupcake, navigating obstacles like a resident cat, dog and a heavy glass dome. Determined to succeed, they employ their knowledge of simple machines—like levers, pulleys and screws—to outsmart their adversaries. Through engaging panels and illustrated sections, Edlund integrates science education into the story, offering a playful introduction to mechanical physics concepts. With hands-on activities and clear explanations, the book inspires readers to explore the world of simple machines while enjoying a delightful adventure.

Nicola Jones

Saving the Spotted Owl: Zalea’s Story (Kids Can Press $21.99) for 8-12 years, by award-winning science journalist Nicola Jones, is a heartwarming true story of the rescue and rehabilitation of Zalea, a three-week-old northern spotted owl, after she fell from her tree. Biologists intervened to save her, bringing her to the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Centre. There, she joined others like her, receiving care until she could be released back into the wild. Through Zalea’s journey, readers learn about the biology and life cycle of owls, conservation efforts and habitat protection. Jones skillfully weaves educational content with Zalea’s narrative, while Alexandra Finkeldey’s beautiful illustrations and real-life photos enhance the details of the story. This informative book offers curriculum links to life science lessons and empowers readers to make a difference in saving endangered species.

Tiffany Stone

Super Small: Miniature Marvels of the Natural World (Greystone Kids $22.95) is a comic-style book for kids 4-8, exploring the extraordinary abilities of tiny creatures. Author Tiffany Stone combines comic panels and poems to share fascinating facts about the smallest beings on Earth, from the oribatid mite’s incredible strength to the axolotl’s regenerative powers and the tardigrade’s ability to survive in extreme conditions. Illustrator Ashley Spires’ whimsical cartoons bring these mini superheroes and supervillains to life, from glow-in-the-dark sharks to immortal jellyfish. Through humor and wonder, the book celebrates the uniqueness and superpowers of small creatures, showing that size doesn’t determine greatness.

Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Author Tanya Lloyd Kyi is nominated for the second time for her book, What Will I Discover? (Greystone Kids $22.95) for ages 3-6. This is a picture book that inspires kids to ask big questions and nurture their curiosity in STEM fields. While scientists have uncovered many mysteries, the book reminds readers that there’s always more to explore. Through engaging questions, such as whether trees communicate through their roots and if distant suns harbor Earth-like planets, young readers are encouraged to ponder the unknown. This book celebrates curiosity, encouraging children to embrace the wonder of scientific discovery while sparking their desire to seek answers to the mysteries of the world. Illustrated by Rachel Quiqi.

 

Linda L. Richards

In Wild Horses: Running Free (Orca $24.95) for 9-12 years, author Linda L. Richards highlights how wild horses are iconic symbols of freedom, yet they face numerous threats to their survival due to environmental changes, politics and diminishing habitats. Found worldwide, including the legendary mustangs of North America, these creatures’ history and origins are undergoing reevaluation. This book delves into the biology, ecology and historical significance of wild horses, exploring their relationship with Indigenous Peoples and the efforts of governments and citizens to protect them. Readers will learn about the challenges these animals face and the crucial role young people play in preserving wild horse populations for future generations to enjoy their freedom.

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ABOUT THE AWARD

Science Writers & Communicators of Canada (SWCC) was founded in 1970 as the Canadian Science Writers’ Association by a small group of science and medical reporters who recognized their role in helping other Canadians better understand rapid changes occurring in our world. Each year, SWCC’s Book Awards program offers awards that recognize excellence in Canadian science writing.

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