Shortlist for 2017 ALCS Educational Writers' Award

14 November 2017

We are delighted to reveal the six books that have been shortlisted for the 2017 ALCS Educational Writers’ Award, this year focusing on the 5-11 age group.

The winner will receive a cheque for £2,000 and will be presented with their award at the All Party Writers Group (APWG) Winter Reception at the House of Commons on Tuesday 5th December.

This year’s shortlist includes:

SECRETS OF THE SEA by Kate Baker, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor (Big Picture Press / Templar)

This lavishly illustrated, large format book takes young readers on a journey of discovery from rock pools along the shoreline, to the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean to uncover an incredible, and rarely seen world.


Our judges said: Taking its readers on a diving experience to discover the wonders of the deep blue sea, this book has a well-written and accessible text which will appeal to a wide range of ages, and beautiful artwork which brings the marine world to life.


FLUTTERING MINIBEAST ADVENTURES by Jess French, illustrated by Jonathan Woodward and paper engineering by Keith Finch (Red Shed / Egmont)

Find out how caterpillars change into beautiful butterflies, pond dip for baby dragonflies, and then continue the journey with the pop and play minibeast model which awaits the reader at the end of this colourful book. Each adventure is full of facts and activities that encourage children to explore the world around them.

Our judges said: A bright, inviting and informative book, clearly written without being patronising. Its magical ideas are superbly laid out, with accessible text that will appeal to younger and early readers. 


GENIUS! THE MOST ASTONISHING INVENTIONS OF ALL TIME by Deborah Kespert, designed by Karen Wilks (Thames & Hudson)

From Archimedes’ machine for carrying water uphill, to Tim Berners-Lee’s creation of the World-Wide Web, here are gripping stories of brilliant brave inventors who dared think the unthinkable and do the impossible, and so helped create our 21st century world. 


Our judges said: Full of interesting information enlivened with beautiful photographs, drawings and paintings, this is a fascinating book which ranges across technologies and across time, with a varied approach which will appeal equally to early, and more advanced readers. 


HOW TO CODE IN 10 EASY LESSONS by Sean McManus, illustrated by Venitia Dean (QED Publishing / Quarto)

Teaching young readers how to design and code their very own computer games, this book gives readers the ten essential skills to get started.



Our judges said: Providing a lively way into an exciting new subject for all age groups, this book approaches complex ideas with both humour, and beautiful clarity. Full of handy tips and easy-to-understand instructions, it succeeds in making coding a fun activity for both boys and girls.


TREE OF WONDER: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree by Kate Messner, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani (Chronicle Books)

Deep in the forest, in the warm-wet green, who makes their homes in the almendro tree? Count each and every creature as life multiplies again and again in this vibrant and lush book about the rainforest. 


Our judges said: Based on the wonderful idea that a single tree supports thousands of lives, this is an attractive and layered picture book with two kinds of text; a simple text about one kind of animal associated with the tree, with more detailed information about that animal alongside.  Its brilliant use of numeracy activities, and its gorgeous illustrations will encourage lots of questions.


THE BOOK OF BEES by Wojciech Grajkowski, illustrated by Piotr Soscha and translated by Agnes Monod-Gayraud (Thames & Hudson) 

Who survived being stung by 2443 bees? What does a beekeeper actually do? How do bees communicate? This epic encyclopaedic book illustrated by popular Polish cartoonist, Piotr Socha (and son of a beekeeper!) tracks bumble bees from the age of the dinosaurs to their current plight, examining the role bees have played throughout history and in the rest of the natural world.


Our judges said: A beautifully and wittily illustrated compendium of information all about bees and their interconnectedness with the world. Broad in its themes and containing lots of humour, it takes in the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, entymology, botany, the Bible, design, technology and much more.



Now in its tenth year, the Educational Writers’ Award was established in 2008 by the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) and the Society of Authors (SoA) “to celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity and encourages students to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications”. The 2016 winner was This is Not a Maths Book: A Smart Art Activity Book, written by Anna Weltman, and illustrated by Edward Cheverton and Ivan Hissey.

This year’s judges are Marion Le Lannou, Mike Reeves and Annemarie Young.

View the full press release here.