When I was at school, I did maths and arts A levels. At Cambridge University, I started off studying in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and ended up in the Department of Engineering. I enjoyed analysing a poem just as much as I enjoyed doing spectrographic analyses of speech signals. And so when it came to creating my Buzzing! book, it was entirely natural to me to mix science and amusing poetry, entomology and etymology, to create a colourful, fizzing, ‘edu-taining’ experience.
I was thrilled to discover yesterday that the Royal Society, that august scientific body founded over 350 years ago, recognised what I set out to do by shortlisting Buzzing! for this year’s Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.
I was particularly pleased about this as I had had a hard job convincing publishers that mixing science and poetry was a good idea. But in the end I was very lucky to find Brambleby Books, who immediately ‘got’ what I wanted to do, and who went on to produce the handsome tome that is Buzzing!
The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize is a prestigious prize that ‘celebrates the best English-language books that communicate science to young people up to the age of fourteen’.
Buzzing! was one of six books shortlisted for the Prize by a judging panel that consisted of five eminent scientists, science communicators and educationalists. They described my book as being:
‘buzzing with interesting science facts and wonderful poetry. Each page features a different British minibeast that you might find in your back garden, with a funny poem about them.’
The Chair of the panel was Professor John Goodby FRS, who said:
‘This year’s books have shown how science can become the subject of beautiful poems, be the object of wonderful works of art, and all the time stretching minds, young and old, into the “realms of imagination” and down-to-earth “model building” … Our eclectic collection of books have been truly enthralling, and our decisions on six candidates for “book of the year” have been incredibly difficult.’
Copies of all six shortlisted books are now being sent out to groups of young people up and down the country. It is they who will be the final judges. The book they choose as the winner will be announced on 11 November …