"People of the Books" Blog

2018 Winners of Jewish Fiction Award

The Association of Jewish Libraries Announces 2018 Winners of Jewish Fiction Award

Rachel Kadish is the inaugural winner of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) Jewish Fiction Award for her novel The Weight of Ink, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize as well as support to attend the 53rd Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries in Boston, MA, June 18-20, 2018. Two honor books were also recognized: Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan, published by Tin House Books, and A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert, published by Pantheon Books, part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. The Committee received over 50 works of fiction with significant Jewish thematic content, written in English and available in the United States in 2017, and thanks all those who submitted entries for consideration. The wide array of books published this year is a testament to the vibrant state of contemporary Jewish fiction.

“Rachel Kadish has crafted an extraordinary cast of characters who speak to each other within and across the divides of centuries as well as those of age, religion, and class and come vividly to life under her empathic touch,” notes Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, Chairperson of the Award Committee. “This is a book that honors learning, libraries, archivists and librarians, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Jewish Fiction Award Committee is delighted to present Kadish with the 2018 AJL Jewish Fiction Award.”

Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan gives serious depth to the little-known story of Jewish life in Ireland. Weaving a complex story, Ruth Gilligan uses the specifics of Irish lore and history woven with the Jewish experience to illuminate the stories of a young girl and her family who emigrate from eastern Europe, a suddenly mute boy incarcerated in a home for the mentally disabled, and a woman who considers the implications of converting to Judaism. According to Taub, “Gilligan's expert twists of plot, exploration of historical themes, and her gift of word play and dark humor” impressed the Committee.

Rachel Seiffert's A Boy in Winter works on a small canvas and creates a searing emotional impact. As the Nazis invade a small Ukrainian town, a variety of characters are forced to face the invasion's terrible consequences and quickly make life-altering decisions. Taub comments: “Seiffert writes with spareness, a plain-hewn power that draws the reader on a journey of suspense in a time and place of limited possibility.”

The Association of Jewish Libraries gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Dan Wyman Books for underwriting the Award. Submissions for the 2019 AJL Fiction Award are now being accepted. For more information, please visit www.jewishlibraries.org.

Member Spotlight with Žilvinas Beliauskas

Zilvinas

Žilvinas Beliauskas heads the Vilnius Jewish Public Library

 

Visit the Vilnius Jewish Public Library Website here!

 

Donate here!

 

Žilvinas graduated from Kaunas J. Jablonskis secondary school, a school that specialized English language and literature. Žilvinas then entered the Psychology Department at Vilnius University and graduated in 1982.

 

Žilvinas was working as a psychology lecturer when be grew an interest in the Vilnius Jewish Public Library project. The idea came from an American from San Diego, who already had his collection of books shipped to Lithuania and was looking for ways to realize his dream. For several years he had been trying to establish a library in Vilnius, but none of his attempts with the local Jewish community and state-operated museums were successful. Žilvinas found the idea attractive, though he was neither a librarian nor a Jew. Nevertheless Žilvinas started coordinating the project, contacting the government, Ministry of Culture, libraries, and other institutions. Žilvinas described the process as an adventure. He realized how important the project was for his generation, which grew up in complete ignorance of Jewish history. His goal would be to show Jewish heritage to the whole of Lithuanian society.

 

Being a psychologist, Žilvinas saw great value in presenting a heritage that was exterminated and lost due to the Holocaust. Žilvinas notes, “culturally, now we have an opportunity to get in touch with the bottomless heritage of wisdom, art, literature, science and other spheres of life within the Judaic dimension.”

 

There were many interesting and lucky coincidences during the process of the coordination and attempts to establish the library. Žilvinas even says that it would not have been possible without “guidance from the Heavens.” Žilvinas and his colleagues received permission from the Lithuanian government to build in a good location but in a run-down building. They would need funds for renovation and equipment. In the same year, prosecutors enforced a ban on financial interactions related to the Royal Palce (Palace of Rulers) reconstruction due to suspicion around the transparency of some construction contracts. In this way, the millions which had already been allocated to the Culture Ministry for this particularly expensive project became hanged in the air. The funds were available for other purposes and the Minister quickly had to find other important cultural projects as inventment opportunities. The shabby library premises were among his priorities and that is how a rather normal financing project for library remodeling was assigned among other museums, theaters, and estates. Zilvinas calls it "a work of angels by the hands of prosecutors for the sake of the Vilnius Jewish Public Library."

Zilvinas stands with graduates from the library's Yiddish Language instruction program

Today Žilvinas and his colleagues run not only the Vilnius Jewish Public Library but also its Charity and Support Foundation and its inspired organization Vilnius Jewish Theater. The latter is currently underway in the very interesting process of producing a musical play based on the motifs of the stories in Avrom Karpinovich’s The Vilne Tango.

 

Žilvinas’s library aspires to grow locally and to network internationally. Žilvinas has received support and book donations from Lynn Waghalter and Olga Potap. Books started coming, and Galina Teverovsky managed to set up a very useful book exchange program.

 

Žilvinas writes:

“I really appreciate all of that, and the library became possible due to the existence of the AJL and its values. We look forward to cooperating with AJL in future as long as possible. There was an exchange of ideas and–for me personally–a lot of knowledge and experience in the field since, as noticed above, library science is not my profession.”

 

Going forward, Žilvinas will continue to maintain a relationship with AJL and to keep his finger on the pulse of Judaica librarianship.  Žilvinas aims to the collection of the library, to maintain it as a vibrant cultural center, and to promote the library locally and internationally in order to make its potential influence. Žilvinas has also expressed an interest in having an international event for Judaica librarianship in Vilnius.

2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour Schedule

The Sydney Taylor Book Award will be showcasing its 2018 gold and silver medalists with a Blog Tour, February 4-8, 2018! Interviews with winning authors and illustrators will appear on a variety of Jewish and kidlit blogs. Interviews will appear on the dates below, and will remain available to read at your own convenience.

Below is the schedule for the 2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. Please follow the links to visit the hosting blogs on or after their tour dates, and be sure to leave them plenty of comments!

2018 SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD BLOG TOUR

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2018

Tammar Stein, author of The Six-Day Hero
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category
At Walk the Ridgepole

Kathy Kacer, author of To Look a Nazi in the Eye
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers Category
At Bildungsroman

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2018

Richard Michelson and Karla Gudeon, author and illustrator of The Language of Angels
Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Jewish Books for Kids

Alan Gratz, author of Refugee
Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner in the Older Readers Category
At Out of the Box at The Horn Book

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2018

Fawzia Gilani-Williams and Chiara Fedele, author and illustrator of Yaffa and Fatima, Shalom, Salaam
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
At Ima On (and Off) the Bima

Susan Krawitz, author of Viva, Rose!
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category
At The Prosen People at The Jewish Book Council

Antonio Iturbe, author of The Librarian of Auschwitz
Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner in the Teen Readers Category
At The Book of Life

Katherine Locke, author of The Girl with the Red Balloon
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers Category
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2018

Jacqueline Jules and Yevgenia Nayberg, author and illustrator of Drop by Drop
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
At Adventures in MamaLand

Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang, co-authors of This Is Just A Test
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category
At The Scroll at Tablet Magazine

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2018

Blog Tour Wrap-Up at The Whole Megillah

 

2018 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Chosen

For More Information Contact:

Aileen Grossberg, Coordinator
Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Committee
Association of Jewish Libraries

www.tinyurl.com/stma18
STMACAJL@AOL.com

 

January 10, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

2018 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Winner Chosen

 

The Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Competition committee is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2018 award. Judith Pransky, author of The Seventh Handmaiden, will receive the award at the annual conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries to be held in Boston, MA, from June 18-20, 2018. The Award is offered annually to an unpublished manuscript that has broad appeal to readers aged 8-13 and presents Jewish life in a positive light.

 

Set in the time of King Xerxes of Persia, the novel begins with the kidnapping of a young girl and then flashes forward several years to focus on Darya, a young slave who is uncertain of her origins. The story follows Darya and her free friend Parvaneh from service in the household of a Persian army captain to positions in Xerxes’s palace as handmaidens to Queen Esther. Swirling around the girls’ everyday activities is palace intrigue orchestrated by Haman’s henchmen including Behrooz, who has a mysterious and frightening connection to Parveneh’s mother.

 

Filled with historical details, intrigue, mystery, politics and a host of issues that contemporary readers can identify with, the story has a satisfying ending for both Darya and her mistress Esther and fleshes out the story found in the Megillah. The judges were impressed by the unique approach to the story of Esther, the strongly nuanced characters, the touch of mystery and the relevance of the issues to today’s world.

 

According to Ms Pransky, The Seventh Handmaiden was written with her sixth grade ancient history students in mind, and tries “to bring the history and lifestyle of Persia to life, as well as the characters that populate the Megillah and the Jewish story that permeates it.” Ms Pransky, a middle school language arts/history teacher, has contributed to Philadelphia area magazines and edited the Marmac Guide to Philadelphia. She has also taught writing to adults and worked as an editor for a textbook publishing company before returning to teaching. The Seventh Handmaiden is her first novel for young readers.

 

In an unusually strong year, the Committee is pleased to name three honorable mention manuscripts: Go To Yourself by Stuart Melnick is the story of an Orthodox boy preparing for his bar mitzvah. Through sports he experiences the outside world for the first time and learns about friendship, decisions and their consequences. Diverse characters and a warm family setting are hallmarks of this story. Raising Canaans by Catherine Orkin Oskowuses humor to tell the story of a dog-crazy preteen who obsesses over the Canaan dogs that her aunt raises and finally comes to accept that she cannot have a dog. Reeni’s Turn by Carol Coven Grannickuses verse to follow ballet dancer Reeni from doubt about herself to self-acceptance. The contemporary story focuses on issues common in today’s families.

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2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners Announced

For More Information Contact:

Susan Kusel, Chair
Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
Association of Jewish Libraries

www.sydneytaylorbookawards.org
sydneytaylorbookaward@jewishlibraries.org

 

January 10, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners Announced

Winners of the annual Sydney Taylor Book Award were announced by the Association of Jewish Libraries today. Named in memory of Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series, the award recognizes books for children and teens that exemplify high literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.

2018 is the 50th Anniversary of the Sydney Taylor Awards. The first winner was The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig in 1968, published by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company.

GOLD MEDALISTS

The Language of Angels: A Story About the Reinvention of Hebrew by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Karla Gudeon, published by Charlesbridge, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Younger Readers category. This beautiful picture book tells the story of how Hebrew became an everyday language in Israel, after being out of use for two thousand years. The folk art illustrations are an illuminating match.

 

Refugee by Alan Gratz, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Older Readers category. The journeys of three different young refugees from Nazi Germany, 1990s Cuba and present-day Syria come together to form an emotional and timely narrative about the refugee experience.

 

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, translated by Lilit Thwaites, published by Godwin Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, a division of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Teen Readers category. This powerful story of Dita Kraus and her protection of a handful of books in the Auschwitz concentration camp shows the importance of hope in the darkest of times. 

 

Harold Grinspoon and PJ Library won the Sydney Taylor Body of Work Award. PJ Library, a project of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, is a family engagement program that sends free books celebrating Jewish values and culture to families with children 6 months through 8 years old. This program has revolutionized the field of Jewish children’s literature by providing dramatically improved access to Jewish books for families. It has also significantly increased the publication of children’s books with Jewish content. The Body of Work Award has been given twelve times in the 50-year history of the Sydney Taylor Awards. The last recipient was author Eric Kimmel in 2004.

 

SILVER MEDALISTS

Eight Sydney Taylor Honor Books were also recognized.

For Younger Readers, the Honor Books are: Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam adapted by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Chiara Fedele, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group and Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

For Older Readers, the Honor Books are: Viva, Rose! by Susan Krawitz, published by Holiday House, which was also the recipient of the 2015 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award; This Is Just a Test by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic; and The Six-Day Hero by Tammar Stein, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

For Teen Readers, the Honor Books are: To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen’s Account of a War Criminal Trial by Kathy Kacer with Jordana Lebowitz,published by Second Story Press; Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin, translated by Rosie Hedger, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic; and The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke,published by Albert Whitman & Company.

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated twelve Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2018. More information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award and a complete listing of the award winners and notables can be found at www.sydneytaylorbookawards.org


Winning authors and illustrators will receive their awards at the Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries, to be held in Boston, MA from June 18-20, 2018. Gold and silver medalists will also participate in a blog tour February 4-8, 2018. For more information about the blog tour please visit www.jewishlibraries.org/blog.

 

The Language of Angelsand Refugeewere also named winners of the 67th Annual National Jewish Book Awards, which were announced today as well. A full list of all the winners can be found on the Jewish Book Council’s website www.jewishbookcouncil.org/awards/national-jewish-book-award.html

 

Members of the 2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award committee are: Chair Susan Kusel, Temple Rodef Shalom Library, Falls Church, VA; Rena Citrin, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago, IL; Elissa Gershowitz, Horn Book Magazine, Boston, MA; Rebecca Levitan, Baltimore County Public Library, Pikesville Branch, Baltimore, MD; Heather Lenson, Joseph & Florence Mandel Jewish Day School, Beachwood, OH;Marjorie Shuster, Congregation Emanuel of the City of New York, New York, NY; and Rivka Yerushalmi, Silver Spring, MD.

 

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The 2018 Sydney Taylor Book Awards

Association of Jewish Libraries

 

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers

The Language of Angels: A Story About the Reinvention of Hebrew

by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Karla Gudeon, published by Charlesbridge

 

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers

Refugee by Alan Gratz, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic

 

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, translated by Lilit Thwaites,

published by Godwin Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company,

a division of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

 

The Sydney Taylor Body of Work Award Winner

Harold Grinspoon and PJ Library

~~~~~~

 

Sydney Taylor Honor Books for Younger Readers

Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam adapted by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Chiara Fedele

published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group

 

Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg

published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group

 

Sydney Taylor Honor Books for Older Readers

Viva, Rose! by Susan Krawitz,published by Holiday House

 

This Is Just a Test by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang,

published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic

 

The Six-Day Hero by Tammar Stein, published by Kar-Ben Publishing,

a division of Lerner Publishing Group

 

Sydney Taylor Honor Books for Teen Readers

To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen’s Account of a War Criminal Trial

by Kathy Kacer with Jordana Lebowitz,published by Second Story Press

 

Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin, translated by Rosie Hedger

published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic

 

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke,published by Albert Whitman & Company

 

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Notable Books for Younger Readers

Yom Kippur Shortstop by David A. Adler, illustrated by Andre Ceolin

published by Apples & Honey Press, an imprint of Behrman House

 

Under the Sabbath Lamp by Michael Herman, illustrated by Alida Massari

published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group

 

Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Jim Starr

published by Apples & Honey Press, an imprint of Behrman House

 

The Knish War on Rivington Street by Joanne Oppenheim, illustrated by Jon Davis

published by Albert Whitman & Company

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Stacy Innerst, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, a division of Abrams

 

Notable Books for Older Readers

Hedy’s Journey: The True Story of a Hungarian Girl Fleeing the Holocaust

by Michelle Bisson, illustrated by El primo Ramón

published by Capstone Press, a Capstone imprint

 

The Children of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II:

Young Readers Edition by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen and adapted by Emil Sher

published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a division of Hachette Book Group

 

Wordwings by Sydelle Pearl, published by Guernica Editions

 

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero

published by Delacorte Press, a division of Random House Children’s Books

 

Notable Books for Teen Readers

Man’s Search for Meaning: Young Reader Edition by Viktor E. Frankl, published by Beacon Press

 

Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

published by Katherine Tegen Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers

 

Stolen Secrets by L.B. Schulman, published by Boyds Mills Press, a division of Highlights

 

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For more information contact:

Susan Kusel, Chair

Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, Association of Jewish Libraries

sydneytaylorbookaward@jewishlibraries.org

www.sydneytaylorbookawards.org