The Gigantic Book of Genes
This publisher’s tagline is “explaining the complex simply”. I’m all up for that, but this commission was the hardest yet. Genetics for primary school children? Where do you even start? Luckily I had studied genetics at university so I understand the basics. I also have a neighbour who is an internationally renowned forensic geneticist, and she agreed to be my fact checker. I gave it my best shot and ran an early draft past my 8-year-old beta-reader, who gave me some valuable feedback on a few things that didn’t make sense to her.
The Gigantic Book of Genes was named an Honour Book in the 2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards, in the Eve Pownall Information Books category.
The judges said: “The lessons in genetics from secondary school days may not sparkle in our memories, with those blurred-blob chromosomes and flattened double helixes in monotonous shades. This book takes maximum advantage of advances in knowledge and printing processes to make the subject not just fascinating, but accessible and understandable for even primary school readers. The information documented is just enough to interest young readers and not overwhelm them; at the same time the book is an excellent pre-reader for older readers embarking on more detailed studies in the topic. Illustrations are bright, bold and imaginative, a combination of photographs and diagrams. These illustrations are not decorative but form a strong relationship with the text. The book cover immediately attracts attention; the size and handling is attractive to young readers. Any young science enthusiast will enjoy the easy reading of this book as will anyone interested in learning about why they have Uncle Larry’s crooked nose. With the spotlight currently on STEM education, authorities would do well to take note of this kind of learning resource which is at the vanguard of new approaches to general reference publishing.”