In the beginning came Magnus Magnusson with Introducing Archaeology (Bodley Head, 1972). In 1998 came Big Bang, the senior winner of last year's TES Information Book Award (by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest, published by Dorling Kindersley). In between came a stack of outstanding books by experts including Richard Mabey on Street Flowers (junior winner 1977, published by Kestrel) and Sheila Kitzinger on Being Born (junior winner 1987, published by Dorling Kindersley).
Now The TES and the Educational Publishers Council can announce the shortlists for the 1999 Information and Schoolbook Awards, chosen by panels of subject specialists with classroom experience. They sifted through more than 200 books for the information awards and about 50 books and resource packs for the Schoolbook Award for Music.
History - in particular, individual experiences of war - is a focus of both the junior and senior shortlists. Castle at War is a blow-by-blow account of a six-week siege at a medieval garrison; Letters to Henrietta charts one family's losses in the First World War; and Witnesses to War tells the stories of children from a range of backgrounds, with persecution by the Nazis in common. Other titles reflect the natural world, and there's inspiration for getting out and exploring it in Cycling, one of the Hodder pocket-money-priced Activators handbooks for young enthusiasts.
The primary and secondary Schoolbook Awards, sponsored by the Educational Publishers Council, have been presented since 1986 and are devoted to a different curriculum subject each year. For the first time, music is the Schoolbook Award subject for 1999, reflecting the TES's Music for the Millennium campaign.
The primary award shortlist opens with a fanfare from Ginn. Its Carousel Primary Music resource and discussion books for reception and nursery classes impressed the judges as "an imaginative, engaging resource that doesn't marginalise or patronise". Let's Make Tudor Music by Lucie and Roddy Skeaping reaches for the viols, tabors, rebecs and sackbuts in key stage 2 projects, including pieces linked to Henry VIII and his six wives.
"Henery" (and his proposal to the wife that got away) also features in Three Rapping Rats, a collection of musical treatments for traditional stories by the children's writer Kaye Umansky.
The secondary Schoolbook Award did not attract enough entries of a sufficiently high standard for the judges to compile a shortlist, but the panel unanimously agreed on the winner, a resource that admirably meets the judges' criterion of giving the biggest boost to music for the maximum number of children. It will be announced next week.
* Details of winners and judges' reports will appear in TES Friday magazine next week (March 12). Each winning title will receive a prize of pound;500, to be presented by National Year of Reading director Liz Attenborough on March 18, at a ceremony at Times House, London E1 Junior Information Books Cycling: All You Need to Know By Clive Gifford Illustrated by Nick Dewar Hodder Activators pound;3.99
Snail By Karen Hartley and Chris Macro Heinemann Bug Books pound;8.75
Letters to Henrietta By Nell Marshall Cambridge University Press pound;4.50
Senior Information Books
Castle at war: The Story of a Siege By Andrew Langley Illustrated by Peter Dennis Dorling Kindersley pound;9.99
Witnesses to War: Eight True-life Stories of Nazi Persecution By Michael Leapman Viking pound;12.99
Nature Encyclopedia Dorling Kindersley in association with the Natural History Museum pound;24
Schoolbook award for music
Carousel Primary Music By Joan Child, Richard Crozier and Ken Storry Ginn Teachers' resource book pound;19.50 Group discussion book pound;23.50
Let's Make Tudor Music By Lucie and Roddy Skeaping Stainer and Bell Teacher's and Pupil's Book pound;14.99
Three Rapping Rats By Kaye Umansky A amp; C Black pound;8.99