SWCC Book Awards Winners

The Science Writers and Communicators of Canada is pleased to announce the winners of this year's book awards for books published in 2016.

In the youth category the winner is:

Faster Higher Smarter by Simon Shapiro

It takes a lot of talent, skill, and hard work to become a world-class athlete. But it takes even more to make a sport better: it takes smarts! And whether innovators are aware of it or not, it takes an understanding of physics, mechanics, and aerodynamics to come up with better techniques and equipment. From swimming, soccer, and basketball to skateboarding and wheelchair sports, Faster Higher Smarter looks at the hard science behind many inventions and improvements in sports. 



In the general audience category the winner is:

The Killer Whale Who Changed The World by Mark Leiren-Young

Killer whales had always been seen as bloodthirsty sea monsters. That all changed when a young killer whale was captured off the west coast of North America and displayed to the public in 1964. Moby Doll — as the whale became known — was an instant celebrity, drawing 20,000 visitors on the one and only day he was exhibited. He died within a few months, but his famous gentleness sparked a worldwide crusade that transformed how people understood and appreciated orcas. Because of Moby Doll, we stopped fearing “killers” and grew to love and respect “orcas.”

'The Killer Whale Who Changed the World'  is a riveting and uniquely Canadian science story  about how the first observations of a captive orca transformed the understanding of this species and inspired an international conservation effort.  It unfolds through lively narrative filled with suspense, clarity and humour to reveal the pivotal role played by a group of Canadian scientists, businessmen and the founding director of the Vancouver Aquarium.  The author, science journalist Mark Leiren-Young, chased the story for almost 20 years.  We unanimously wish to honour his effort and persistence in chasing and investigating this story, as well as underlying the originality and ongoing relevance of the story.  'The Killer Whale Who Changed the World’ is a must read by all who care about nature, species conservation, and animal welfare, and an eloquent example of excellent science journalism.

Science Writers and Communicators of Canada offer two annual book awards to honour outstanding contributions to science writing 1) intended for and available to children/middle grades ages 8-12 years, and 2) intended for and available to the general public. Books are judged on literary excellence and scientific content and accuracy. In addition the two book juries look for initiative, originality, clarity of interpretation, relevance and value in promoting greater understanding of science by the general reader. The independent juries are composed of writers, scientists and members of the intended audience. Winners receive a certificate and cash prize of $1,000. The prizes will be presented at the SWCC annual conference in Ottawa, Sept 13-16.

Shortlist for Excellence in a Youth Book Published in 2016

Faster Higher Smarter by Simon Shapiro

It takes a lot of talent, skill, and hard work to become a world-class athlete. But it takes even more to make a sport better: it takes smarts! And whether innovators are aware of it or not, it takes an understanding of physics, mechanics, and aerodynamics to come up with better techniques and equipment. From swimming, soccer, and basketball to skateboarding and wheelchair sports, Faster Higher Smarter looks at the hard science behind many inventions and improvements in sports. 





Inside Your Insides by Claire Eamer

“Wherever you go, tiny hitchhikers tag along for the ride,” this intriguing illustrated nonfiction book begins. “The hitchhikers are actually microbes --- tiny living things so small that you need a microscope to see them. And every person carries around trillions and trillions of these critters.” Six of the most common “critters” that live in and on our bodies are introduced here: bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, protists and mites. Each one has its own preferred environment, and readers will be startled (and likely a little grossed out!) by the many places they live, including the hair follicles on our faces, the folds of our tongues and the lengths of our guts. Just as surprising, only some of them are “bad guys” that cause disease, and many of them are actually “good guys” that keep us healthy. There's even research currently being done on ways to improve or fix our collection of microbes as a way to make us healthier.



Monster Science by Helaine Becker

“What if the terrifying creatures of your nightmares were indeed prowling the big, wide world beyond your blankie?” begins the intriguing premise of this book. “Could they really exist? And if so, how?” In a completely original approach to exploring science, award-winning author Helaine Becker places six different kinds of monsters --- Frankenstein, vampires, bigfoot, zombies, werewolves and sea monsters --- under her microscope to expose the proven scientific principles behind the legends. For example, the chapter on Frankenstein delves into how electricity and organ transplants work in the human body, and whether they could really bring someone back to life --- all presented in short, readable sections.



To Burp or Not To Burp by Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti

Find out what happens to your body in space—from someone who’s been there. Of all the questions astronauts are asked by kids, the most frequent one is “How do you go to the toilet in space?” This book not only answers that question, but many others about the effect of zero gravity on the human body: How do you brush your hair in space? What happens when you sweat? What does food taste like? The best thing is that the answers are provided by someone who speaks from first-hand experience: Dr. Dave Williams, a NASA astronaut who has accomplished three space walks.





Dinosaurs of the Deep by Larry Vestraete


Driving across the North American Heartland, surrounded by prairie, it is almost impossible to imagine that this was once a huge inland sea. The Western Interior Seaway, which split the entire continent of North America in half, once teemed with predatory creatures—fanged fish and turtles the size of small cars; prowling sharks and giant squid; hungry plesiosaurs and immense crocodiles.Through a cooperative partnership with the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (CFDC), home to ‘Bruce’, the world’s largest mosasaur skeleton, author Larry Verstraete and paleoartist Julius Csotonyi combine fascinating facts, astonishing discoveries, and the latest paleontological information to bring the ancient marine creatures of the Seaway to vivid life.


Shortlist for Excellence General Audience Books Published in 2016


A Field Guide To Lies: Critical Thinking In The Information Age

Daniel J. Levitin

It's becoming harder to separate the wheat from the digital chaff. How do we distinguish misinformation, pseudo-facts, distortions and outright lies from reliable information? In A Field Guide to Lies, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin outlines the many pitfalls of the information age and provides the means to spot and avoid them.






The Killer Whale Who Changed The World

Mark Leiren-Young

Killer whales had always been seen as bloodthirsty sea monsters. That all changed when a young killer whale was captured off the west coast of North America and displayed to the public in 1964. Moby Doll — as the whale became known — was an instant celebrity, drawing 20,000 visitors on the one and only day he was exhibited. He died within a few months, but his famous gentleness sparked a worldwide crusade that transformed how people understood and appreciated orcas. Because of Moby Doll, we stopped fearing “killers” and grew to love and respect “orcas.”




Let Them Eat Dirt:

Saving Our Children from an Oversanitized World

B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta

In the 150 years since we discovered that microbes cause infectious diseases, we’ve battled to keep them at bay. But a recent explosion of scientific knowledge has led to undeniable evidence that early exposure to these organisms is beneficial to our children’s well-being. It turns out that our current emphasis on hyper-cleanliness and poor diets are taking a toll on our children’s lifelong health.



Opium Eater: The New Confessions

Carlyn Zwarenstein

Amid headlines of overdoses and galloping addiction rates, an outspoken and darkly comic dispatch from the new Age of Opium. North Americans are the world's most compulsive and prolific users of legal opioids. Carlyn Zwarenstein, diagnosed with an inflammatory spine disease as a young mother, eventually turned to them to manage her pain. In this lyrical update of Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, she recounts her search for relief and release — with its euphoric ups, hallucinatory lows and desperate pharmacy visits. Along the way she traces the long tradition of opium’s influence on culture and imagination, from De Quincey to Frida Kahlo.




Sorting The Beef From The Bull: The Science of Food Fraud Forensics

Nicola Temple and Richard Evershed

Sorting the Beef from the Bull is a collection of food fraud tales from around the world. It explains the role of science in uncovering some of the century's biggest food scams, and explores the arms race between food forensics and fraudsters as new methods of detection spur more creative and sophisticated means of committing the crimes. This book equips us with the knowledge of what is possible in the world of food fraud and shines a light on the shady areas of our food supply system where these criminals lurk.

Book Awards 2016

The Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers two annual book awards to honour outstanding contributions to science writing 1) intended for and available to children/middle grades ages 8-12 years, and 2) intended for and available to the general public. Competitors must be Canadian citizens or residents of Canada, but need not be members of the CSWA. Entries, in either French or English, must have been published in Canada during the 2016 calendar year. 

Judging Criteria

Entries may deal with aspects of basic or applied science or technology, historical or current, in any area including health, social or environmental issues, regulatory trends etc.

Books will be judged on literary excellence and scientific content and accuracy. Specific judging criteria will include initiative, originality, clarity of interpretation and value in promoting greater understanding of science by the general reader.

Books must be understandable to the layperson or children, with appropriate clarification of medical and scientific terminology, and an orderly marshalling of facts.

Also the subject matter should be significant and relevant for the majority of the public or children, and so presented that it increases public awareness. 

Rules for Submissions

Include a fully completed entry form with each submission

Submit a brief biography of the author(s)

6 copies are required for judging purposes

Entry must have been published in Canada during the 2016 calendar year

Entries should be received at the CSWA National Office by Dec 9, 2016

Entries failing to comply with these rules will be rejected. For more information please phone the CSWA office at 1-800-796-8595, or email office@sciencewriters.ca

All entries become the property of the CSWA

English Entry Form available here