2010 Winner: Middle Grades Science Book

The Frog Scientist, by Pamela S. Turner. (Photographs by Andy Comins; from the Scientists in the Field Series.) Houghton Mifflin, 2009.

As a child in South Carolina, Tyrone Hayes liked to collect frogs, snakes, and turtles. As a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, his research focuses on the effects of steroid hormones on amphibian development. (These may contribute, along with factors such as habitat loss and a devastating fungal disease, to the drastic global decline in amphibians.) Turner joins Hayes and his students in the field (a Wyoming pond) and laboratory while they test the hypothesis that the commonly used pesticide atrazine feminizes male leopard frogs. She describes how they design, carry out, analyze, and interpret their experiment. She also tells how Hayes struggled as an undergraduate at Harvard until he found his calling in a research lab. The book introduces colorful frogs and toads from around the world as well as some of the efforts to save them from extinction. The lucid text and numerous photos of Hayes, his young assistants, and amphibians combine to convey both the fun and importance of doing science.

About the Author

Pamela Turner, Author

Growing up in Riverside, California, Pamela Turner was always surrounded by pets, books, and drawing paper. Her first ambition was to write and illustrate children’s books—about animals, of course.

After spending her junior year in college as an exchange student at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, Pamela decided to pursue a career in international health. She has a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley and worked as an international health consultant and health policy researcher before turning to science and nature writing. She has lived in Kenya, South Africa, the Marshall Islands, the Philippines, and Japan, and each of her three children was born in a different country. 

In addition to The Frog Scientist, Pamela is the author of Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog, Gorilla Doctors: Saving Endangered Great Apes, Life on Earth—and Beyond: An Astrobiologist’s Quest, A Life in the Wild: George Schaller’s Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts, and Prowling the Seas: The Hidden Lives of Ocean Predators. Her books have received the Golden Kite Award, the ASPCA Henry Bergh Award, the Flora Steiglitz Straus Nonfiction Award, and ALA Notable Book recognition.  She lives in Oakland, California with her husband and youngest son. When not writing, Pamela volunteers as a wildlife rehabilitator with the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital in Walnut Creek, California.

Andy Comins, Photographer

Andy Comins, a Los Angeles based portrait and commercial photographer, combines an extensive background working with children with a keen “eye” to produce spontaneous, fresh and contemporary images.  The Frog Scientist represents his initial adventure in the natural sciences and as well as his first book for kids.

Andy discovered his interest in children and children’s issues while a student at both Harvard College and Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Upon graduation he went on to join Head Start’s Indian and Migrant Program Division as both a teacher and day care center administrator. He subsequently worked with a major New York public relations firm dedicated to children’s issues and became retail director of Childcraft Education Corporation, a national leader in educational equipment supplies for institutions and individuals.

With a burgeoning attraction to the visual arts, Andy made a transition to the television and film industry. After three years field producing the ABC-TV Emmy Award winning public affairs series, FYI, he went on to become a successful location scout in the motion picture industry. He was the location manager for the Academy Award winning Driving Miss Daisy.

Andy’s connection with children came full circle when he combined his love for photography with his ability to capture the essence of childhood. He specializes in children’s and family portraiture, as well as children’s fashion and commercial advertising photography. His commercial clients have included Nestle/Carnation, Tomy, MetroPlus Healthcare, Children’s Business, Earnshaw’s and LA Parent magazine. Gotcha Surfwear, Rosetta Millington, Ecco/Soup, Classic Child, Barefoot Dreams and HB Baby are among his numerous children’s fashion accounts.

Originally from the east coast, Andy now lives in Los Angeles. When time permits, he travels both domestically and internationally to document the lives of children.