Shortlist announced for national book competition

3 December 2019

UCLan Publishing has unveiled the 25 authors who have been shortlisted for The STEAM Children’s Book Prize 2020

The highly-anticipated shortlist for a national children’s book prize has been announced by the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Publishing House. 

UCLan Publishing, in partnership with The British Interplanetary Society (BIS), has released the names of 25 books and their authors and publishers who make up the shortlist for The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) Children’s Book Prize 2020.

The aim of the prize is to highlight the importance of STEAM subjects and praise the publishing industry and authors for championing them. By providing children with engaging, fun, and exciting literature, they’ll hopefully be inspired to take an interest in STEAM further into their education.

Now in its second year, this is the first prize to concentrate solely on STEAM in children’s books and covers all ages from early years to young adults, as well as all genres and subject matters.

The shortlist will be judged by Alison Brumwell, librarian and 2019 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals Chair; Ros Harding, School Librarian of the Year; Dom Conlon, author, poet and science enthusiast; and Ralph Timberlake, ambassador for The British Interplanetary Society.

Dom said: “Arriving at a shortlist of brilliant books has to be one of the great scientific endeavours comparable to choosing which child to favour (the last one) and deciding whether or not a Jaffa cake is a biscuit (totally). Thankfully, UCLan Publishing provided the right conditions with a perfectly balanced judging team of which I was proud to play the placebo. These books, and the ones we mercilessly discarded, reveal a bright and curious future for all children.”

"What a joy it was to see so many incredible books being published for children and young people related to STEAM subjects."

Ros added: “What a joy it was to see so many incredible books being published for children and young people related to STEAM subjects. We had to make some very tough decisions to whittle down the submissions into the four shortlists, and some excellent books only narrowly missed out on inclusion. A great few months of reading now lies ahead for us judges and I can’t wait to get stuck into considering these books in detail.”

The winners will be announced at the Lancashire Science Festival at the end of June 2020. All shortlisted authors will be invited to take part in the festivities, which attracts thousands of members of the public.

Christopher Edge won the overall prize for 2019 with The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day (Nosy Crow).

The shortlist is:

Early Years

  • Lifesize Dinosaurs by Sophy Henn - Egmont
  • Astrogirl by Ken Wilson-Max - Otter-Barry Books
  • Suzy Orbit Astronaut by Ruth Quayle & Jez Tuya - Nosy Crow
  • A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade - Raintree
  • Arty! The First Artist in Space by William Bee - Pavilion Books
  • Why do we Poo? by Harriet Blackford - Boxer Books

Middle Grade

  • The Train to Impossible Places by P. G. Bell - Usborne
  • Wildspark by Vashti Hardy - Scholastic
  • Lightning Mary by Anthea Simmons - Andersen Press
  • Fire Girl, Forest Boy by Chloe Daykin - Faber & Faber
  • Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson - Barrington Stoke
  • The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge - Nosy Crow
  • Mega Robo Revenge by Neill Cameron - David Fickling Books

Young Adult

  • Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans - Usborne
  • The Chaos of Now by Erin Lange - Faber & Faber
  • The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James - Barrington Stoke
  • Nowhere on Earth by Nick Lake - Hodder
  • The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James - Walker Books
  • Earth Swarm by Tim Hall - David Fickling Books


  • Engineering Scribble Book by Eddie Reynolds & Darran Stobbart - Usborne
  • The Beetle Collector’s Handbook by M.G. Leonard - Scholastic
  • Science is Magic by Steve Mould - DK
  • The Marvellous Adventure of Being Human by Dr Max Pemberton - Wren and Rook
  • Science You Can Eat by Stefan Gates - DK
  • The Usborne Book of Planet Earth by Megan Cullis & Matthew Oldham – Usborne
The STEAM logo
The STEAM logo