BIOMETRICS Wins the 2018 Lane Anderson Award

Last night the winners of the 2018 Lane Anderson Award Winners were announced. The Lane Anderson Award — created by the Fitzhenry Family Foundation — honours the very best science writing in Canada today, both in the adult and young reader categories. The winner in each category receives $10,000. This year’s winner in the young readers category was Biometrics: Your Body and the Science of Security by Maria Birmingham and illustrated by Ian Turner, published by OwlKids! The finalists were Big Blue Forever: The Story of Canada’s Largest Blue Whale Skeleton by Anita Miettunen (Red Deer Press) and Rewilding by Jane Drake and Ann Love (Annick Press).

From the jury:

“This book offers a fascinating exploration into the science behind using our unique physical features to identify and differentiate us from everyone else on the planet.  Personal identification is becoming increasingly important for personal, national, corporate and global security.  It proves who we say we are and whether or not we have the right to be in certain places, doing certain things or receiving certain items or services.  The book is geared towards children between 8-12 years of age and covers finger printing, hand geometry, facial recognition, retinal scanning, voice and vein recognition.  It also looks at biometrics of the future and considers the important issues around privacy.

The uniqueness of the subject matter made this book particularly interesting to read.  Its connection to STEM related themes will also appeal to educators.  The use of questions through out the book like “How is it collected?” and “Where can you see it?” provide a terrific launch pad for inquiry based learning.   Numerous text features like colour blocking sections of text and numbering specific points divides the content into more manageable chunks of information making it accessible and easy to read.  The layout of the information follows a clear format:  two pages devoted to a description of the biometric and two pages discussing where it’s used and it’s associated drawbacks.  The use of colourful and often times humorous illustrations really supports the text and aids with the understanding of content.  Overall, this book is packed with fascinating information delivered in an engaging, concise, easy to read format that will appeal to a broad range of children.”

When her editor initially pitched the idea of writing a book on biometrics to her, Maria Birmingham knew little about the subject. “I didn’t know too much about it, only some of the more common methods like facial recognition and retinal scanning, so I had to really dive into some of the research, and when I did I learned that there were all kinds of crazy stuff out there, like vein recognition, where you map the patterns of veins in your body, and that can be used for identification, and how even the fingernail beds are unique to us and help to ID us.  Biometrics is really new, and growing, there’s a lot of upcoming ideas that people are coming out with, everything from the scent of our bodies is being used to ID us, to the shape of our smile, and the shape of our outer ear. But what I love about science writing, especially for kids, is I get to learn these fun facts, and then figure out a way to write them for kids in a way that is informative, but is also entertaining.  So I really want to inspire kids and stoke their curiosity and help them think about the world around them.  So I hope I did that with the book.  And the thing, too, with Biometrics, is it gave me an added layer, in that it helped me to talk to kids about their own uniqueness. So from their eyes, to their hands, to their fingernail beds, they are unique through and through.”

Congratulations to the winners and the finalists!

Learn more about the award here.