picture of the cover of the book Animal Eggs


By Wendy Hein, Selection Committee Chair


To a fourth grader, “It was disgusting,” is high praise for a science book. Students in grades 3-5 also used phrases like “It was cool and creepy,” “I liked the colorful pictures,” and “I never knew animals did that” when describing the Winner and three Finalist books for this year’s Animal Behavior Society’s Outstanding Children’s Book Award.


The 2012 winning book, Animal Eggs, is by Dawn Cusick and Joanne O’Sullivan and is published by EarlyLight Books. The book pairs engaging, educational text with vivid photographs of the animals and behaviors being explained. Examples come from all parts of the Animal kingdom, including a look at fossilized dinosaur eggs that was noted by several young readers. The book highlights many behaviors that relate to eggs, including laying, guarding, nesting, stealing, and hatching. Dawn Cusick and EarlyLight Books also produced the 2010 winner, Bug Butts.


There are three Finalist books. Seabird in the Forest by Joan Dunning (Boyds Mills Press) is a story that illustrates the unusual natural history of the marbled murrelet, whose nesting habitat was a mystery until a few decades ago. In Bug Shots (Holiday House), text by Alexandra Siy is enhanced by micrographs by Dennis Kunkel whose color-enhanced, extremely close-up photos show insect body parts in amazing detail. Animals run, jump, climb, fly, glide, dance, slither, and swim in some surprising ways in Leaps and Creeps by Robin Koontz. This book is from the Amazing Animal Skills series published by Marshall Cavendish Benchmark.


The top books not only teach about animals, they also explain how scientists study behavior. Books must have been published in 2011 and all are in English. A committee of Animal Behavior Society members reviews the submissions and selects the Finalist books. Those books are then read by hundreds of students who rank the books. The highest ranking book is the winner. The review books are donated to the participating schools.


Students from the Canby, Oregon area were among those that reviewed the books. “I appreciate the help of Mrs. Perrin at Trost Elementary and Mrs. Anderegg at Ninety-One School to encourage their students to complete the reviews,” says Wendy Hein, the chair of the book selection committee. Hein is a faculty member of the Oregon State University Extension Service, where she provides leadership for 4‑H Youth Development programs in Clackamas County. “It is important to get youth excited about science, and these books help us do that.”


“This year’s committee members and students came from Brazil, Canada, and the United States,” reports Hein. “Although the scores were close, Animal Eggs was the favorite of students in all three countries.”


The other committee members were Eduardo Bessa of the Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso in Tangara da Serra; Dr. Michelle Solensky of Jamestown College in North Dakota; and Dr. Abby Schwarz of Dandelion Environmental Consulting in Vancouver, British Columbia.


The Animal Behavior Society is a scientific organization that promotes the study of animal behavior. This is the 10th year that it has offered the Outstanding Children’s Book Award. Reviews of past winners and finalists can be found at


The 2012 Winner and Finalists


Animal Eggs: An Amazing Clutch of Mysteries and Marvels!

By Dawn Cusick and Joanne O’Sullivan

EarlyLight Books

$14.95 Hardcover, 48 pages




Leaps and Creeps: How animals move to survive

By Robin Koontz

Marshall Cavendish Benchmark

$29.93 Hardcover, 48 pages




Seabird in the Forest: The mystery of the Marbled Murrelet

By Joan Dunning

Boyds Mills Press

$17.95 Hardcover, 32 pages




Bug Shots: The Good, the Bad and the Bugly

By Alexandra Siy (Author) and Dennis Kunkel (Photographer)

Holiday House

$16.95 Hardcover, 40 pages

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