2019 Finalist: Young Adult Science Book

Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures, by Nick Pyenson. Viking, 2018.

Whales are among the largest, most intelligent, deepest diving species ever to have lived on our planet. They evolved from land-roaming, dog-sized creatures into animals that move like fish, breathe like us, can grow to 300,000 pounds, live 200 years, and travel entire ocean basins. Whales fill us with terror, awe, and affection—yet there is still so much we don’t know about them.

Nick Pyenson’s research has given us the answers to some of our biggest questions about whales. He takes us deep inside the Smithsonian’s unparalleled fossil collections, to frigid Antarctic waters, and to the arid desert in Chile, where scientists race against time to document the largest fossil whale site ever found. Full of rich storytelling and scientific discovery, Spying on Whales spans the ancient past to an uncertain future—all to better understand the most enigmatic creatures on Earth.