Blog tour

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Blog tour

Today is the final day, the "grand finale" if you will, of the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. We hope you've been enjoying the interviews with our gold and silver medalists, and that you'll continue to follow their work.

Don't forget, in addition to these medalists we've featured in the blog tour, we've also got lots of fine books on this year's Notables list. Be sure to check out those books too; here's a PDF listing every book recognized by the awards committee for 2011.

Here are the last two stops on our blog tour. Enjoy!

OnceOnce is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Morris Gleitzman at The Fourth Musketeer with blogger Margo Tanenbaum.

Here's a teaser:
Margo: Could you also comment on why you prefer to call Once and its sequels novels about friendship, rather than novels about the Holocaust?

Morris: My starting point for these books, even before I decided to set them against the Holocaust, was friendship.  I've long been interested in how young people today feel growing up in a world that increasingly seems to be the product of the worst of our human tendencies.  I like to write stories that don't shy away from that worst, but which also never lose sight of the best we're capable of.  And I think loving friendships are where most of us get to show our best.


Blogger Barbara KrasnerFinally, we have a wrap-up of the Blog Tour with a virtual panel featuring various winners over at The Whole Megillah with blogger Barbara Krasner.

Here's a teaser:
Barbara: What trends do you see coming our way?

Kristina Swarner: I’ve been approached about electronic books more often lately, and have been thinking about ways to make illustrations move or interact with the readers.
Dana Reinhardt: It’s tough out there for writers of realistic fiction. But thanks to organizations like the Association of Jewish Libraries, sometimes these smaller books get attention and ultimately find their audience.
Sarah Gershman: I see more of an openness to talking about G-d, particularly in books aimed at both affiliated and unaffiliated families.


To learn more about the Sydney Taylor Book Award, please visit the Association of Jewish Libraries. You can hear podcasts of past winners receiving their awards at the AJL convention at

Thanks for reading the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour!
Welcome back to the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour! We've got three more amazing interviews for you today.

Kristina SwarnerKristina Swarner is the illustrator of two books recognized in the Younger Readers Category this year! She illustrated Gathering Sparks by Howard Schwartz (Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner) as well as Modeh Ani by Sarah Gershman (Sydney Taylor Honor Book).

Read an interview with Kristina at The SCBWI Children's Market Blog with blogger Alice Pope.

Here's a teaser:
Alice: Your style is so soft and beautiful--it has an ethereal quality. Will you tell us about your technique?

Kristina: I begin with a black and white linoleum print that helps me get the positive and negative shapes and the underlying texture. Then I go over it with watercolor and colored pencil. I try to leave the white of the paper where I can, so things like stars really glow.


Life, AfterLife, After is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Sarah Darer Littman at Into the Wardrobe with blogger Tarie.

Here's a teaser:
Tarie: What does winning a Sydney Taylor Honor Award for Life, After mean to you?

Sarah: I can't tell you how incredibly honored I feel to be twice honored by the AJL. When my first book, Confessions of a Closet Catholic won the Sydney Taylor Award for Older Readers in 2006, I was new on the scene and there was a part of me that thought maybe it was a fluke, especially since I followed up my win with a terrible case of second book blues (probably not helped by the fact that I was going through a very lengthy and painful divorce at the time). This time, it is perhaps even more meaningful because I feel like, "Wow, maybe they didn't make a horrible mistake that first time after all!"



Hush is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Eishes Chayil at Frume Sarah's World with blogger Frume Sarah.

Here's a teaser:
Frume:As our synagogue educator is fond of asking, what is your goal? What do you hope that this book will do for others?

Eishes:It was the only way to have a voice heard that would not be heard otherwise. It was witnessing the agony and devastating trauma that abuse brings on its victims and realizing that I was lucky (or cursed) enough to be a writer, and can tell the story they can not.


Tune in tomorrow for the final day of our blog tour! We'll feature an  interview with Morris Gleitzman (Once) at The Fourth Musketeer, and we'll have a wrap-up with all the winners over at The Whole Megillah. We hope you've been enjoying the blog tour and we'll see you tomorrow!
Welcome back to the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour! Today we've got interviews with each of our gold medal-winning authors!

Gathering SparksGathering Sparks is the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Howard Schwartz at Boston Bibliophile with blogger Marie Cloutier.

Here's a teaser:
Marie: Who do you see as the audience for the book?

Howard: Since the repair of the world is such a big job, I hope that everyone will do their part. So while the Ari lived in an exclusively Jewish world in Safed, his myth should be an inspiration not only for Jews, but for everyone. Of course, Jewish people can be especially proud that a genius like the Ari [Rabbi Isaac Luria] created a myth to inspire and guide the people to work together in harmony to make the world a better place. But the basic teaching of tikkun olam can be appreciated by everyone, Jewish or not.



Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword is the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category.

Read an interview with author/illustrator Barry Deutsch at BewilderBlog with blogger Laurel Snyder.

Here's a teaser:
Laurel: Did you just wake up one day and say, “Aha! What the world really needs is an Ortho-fantasy-graphic novel!”

Barry:Yes, that’s exactly it!

I think Hereville was mostly inspired by Lis Harris’ book Holy Days, which has a lot of appealing stories of daily Hasidic life. I read Holy Days 10 or 15 years before I created Hereville, but I thought it would be a great setting for a comic book, so it was in the back of my brain, waiting to be used.


The Things a Brother Knows

The Things a Brother Knows is the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Dana Reinhardt at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy with blogger Liz Burns.

Here's a teaser:
Liz B: After reading The Things a Brother Knows, two things in particular stay with the reader. First, the family and friends of Levi Katznelson are amazing. I want to go his house for Friday dinner. Second, there are no easy answers, but much to think about, when it comes to sending young people to fight wars. What inspired this story? In creating such a complex world, were you a “plunger” or “plotter”?

Dana: For better or worse, I’m a plunger. This does tend to get me into trouble when I reach a certain point in my writing, as I inevitably do, where I have no idea where the story is going next. I start with characters. I begin at the beginning. I usually have some sense of where they’re going, and often I find out later that it’s somewhere I didn’t imagine.

With this book I started with listening to the radio and hearing the voices of the mothers of returning soldiers telling the stories of their changed and damaged sons, and I started to wonder about the other son, the brother who didn’t go. What has his life been like the last few years? What will it be like now that his brother is back? This is where I found Levi and the rest of the Katznelsons. They’d love to have you over for Friday night dinner, by the way.


Tune in tomorrow for interviews with Kristina Swarner (illustrator, Gathering Sparks and Modeh Ani) at Alice Pope's SCBWI Children's Market Blog, Sarah Darer Littman (Life, After) at Into the Wardrobe, and Eishes Chayil (Hush) at Frume Sarah's World.
Welcome to Day 3 of the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour! We've got three more exciting interviews for you today.

Cakes & MiraclesCakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Barbara Diamond Goldin at Great Kid Books with blogger Mary Ann Scheuer.

Here's a teaser:
Mary Ann: What was the inspiration for this story, Cakes and Miracles? Does it come from a specific folktale?

Barbara: The inspiration for Cakes and Miracles came from a dream where, in my sleep, I put together aspects of tales I’d been reading in a new way. I love Isaac B. Singer stories, and had just read one about a blind boy and girl who were friends. I was also reading a book by Bella Chagall, where she mentioned that on Purim in her home town, people gave each other not only hamentashen, but also cookies in the shapes of violins, etc. That night I had a dream about a blind boy who makes cookies in wonderful shapes. As soon as I woke up, I wrote these ideas down. Then I had to fill in the story.


Jaime ZollarsJaime Zollars is the illustrator of Cakes and Miracles.

Read an interview with Jaime at The Book of Life with blogger Heidi Estrin.

Here's a teaser:
Heidi: Cakes and Miracles was originally published in 1991 with illustrations by Erika Weihs. Did you refer to the original illustrations in any way as you worked on this book, or did you start completely fresh?

Jaime: I started completely fresh on this title. My first instinct was to look at the original book first, but then I decided that it would only limit my thinking if I peeked too early in the process. Once I had my sketches in, I did order the book to see how it was first illustrated.


Black RadishesBlack Radishes is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Susan Lynn Meyer at The Three R's - Reading, 'Riting & Research with blogger Joyce Hostetter.

Here's a teaser:
Joyce: Talk to us about research – how you approach it, what you’ve learned about how to research, and about your favorite way to gather info.

Susan: What works best for me is a “total immersion” method of research for historical fiction. I read everything I can about the period, especially first-hand accounts, such as memoirs. I love reading newspapers from the time, because they give you a very vivid sense of what daily life was like. They can be painful to read, too, because of their immediacy—they are written just as terrible things are happening, and the writers are living through those terrible times and don’t know yet how the events will turn out.


Tune in tomorrow for interviews with Howard Schwartz (Gathering Sparks) at Boston Bibliophile, Barry Deutsch (Hereville) at BewilderBlog, and Dana Reinhardt (The Things a Brother Knows) at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy.
Welcome back to the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour! We've got three more exciting interviews for you today.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="138" caption="Emma's Poem"][/caption]

Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Linda Glaser at ASHarmony with blogger Elizabeth Lipp.

Here's a teaser:
Elizabeth: Linda, I was surprised to read that you struggled as a young reader. How does your struggles as a young reader inform your writing for young readers?

Linda: Yes. I did struggle with reading when I was a kid. In fact, I thought I'd never learn how. That may be why I use a clear simple style when I write for children. I was the type of reader who needed that. And now, I want my books to be accessible to all children--including those who find reading difficult. When I do school visits I always let kids know that I struggled to read. I figure there are probably some kids listening who are heartened to hear that I know what they are going through and that there is hope.


Statue of Liberty under constructionClaire Nivola is the illustrator of Emma's Poem.

Read an interview with Claire at Lori Calabrese with blogger (wait for it) Lori Calabrese.

Here's a teaser:
Lori: Emma Lazarus's famous lines inspired the way we envision America's exceptional freedom and the way we hold it dear today. How were you inspired to create the amazing illustrations in Emma's Poem?

Claire: Most inspiring for me was the photographic record of the time - pictures of newly arrived immigrants, photographs of the statue itself partially uncrated, of the statue once erected seen from the decks of ships arriving in the N.Y. harbor. Photography was still in its infancy then, but often those early black and white pictures documenting the arrival of a refugee or a family carrying all its modest belongings provided a powerful, deeply telling, and poignant record.


One is Not a Lonely NumberOne Is Not a Lonely Number is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Evelyn Krieger at Ima On and Off the Bima with blogger Phyllis Sommer.

Here's a teaser:

Phyllis: What inspired you to write this story? I see from your biography that you are one of six kids, what brought you to a story about an only child?

Evelyn: When you are the oldest of six kids, its only natural to occasionally wonder what it's like to be an only child.As part of my preparation for the book, I interviewed only children--both kids and adults.  I remember a first grader who wanted a sibling so badly that he invented his mother's pregnancy for show and tell. And I fell for it!


Tune in tomorrow for interviews with Barbara Diamond Goldin (Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale) at Great Kid Books, Jaime Zollars (illustrator, Cakes and Miracles) at The Book of Life, and Susan Lynn Meyer (Black Radishes) at The Three R's - Reading, 'Riting, & Research.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award 2011 Blog Tour begins today with three stops!

ResistanceResistance is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Carla Jablonski at Jewish Comics with blogger Steven Bergson.

Here's a teaser:
Steven: When did the idea for writing the Resistance books come to you? Was there a particular event that occurred which inspired you to write it?

Carla: The war in Iraq, actually, got me wondering about what it would be like to live in an occupied country. I was also interested in the tensions between an experience as it is happening vs. history or hindsight.


image from Resistance

Leland Purvis is the illustrator of the graphic novel, Resistance.

Read an interview with Leland at Shelf-Employed with blogger Lisa Taylor.

Here's a teaser:

Lisa: In Resistance, you often use Paul’s sketchbook to portray people or events  in the story. I found it interesting that, in most cases, Paul’s sketchbook depicts events not through the filtered eye of the young boy, but as they are. In my mind, that tells a story in itself - that the behavior of Nazi  Germany was so horrific that exaggeration, even for an imaginative young boy, is impossible. Was that the point that you were trying to make, or does the sketchbook have another purpose in the story?

Leland: The sketchbook serves a couple of purposes, which is why you were sensing a dual-role, essentially. On the one hand it was a narrative device by which Paul could be valuable to the Maquis resistance in a credible way. Also it does provide a look into Paul's head about his reaction to the town and people around him. We very much included panels that were strictly Paul's P.O.V. This has continued into the sequels.


Modeh Ani

Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category. Its predecessor, The Bedtime Sh'ma, was the 2008 Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Sarah Gershman at Biblio File with blogger Jennie Rothschild.

Here's a teaser:
Jennie: Many Jews do not write out God and instead use a substitute, such as G-d. However, throughout your book, you use God. Why did you make this decision and do you have a response to those who are critical of it (I noticed it came up in the Amazon reviews of the Bedtime Sh'ma.)

Sarah: My main motivation was to make the book accessible to people of all backgrounds. That being said, there are also Rabbinic opinions that say that writing God in English is not the same thing as writing God's full name in Hebrew. We were careful not to do that in the Hebrew portions of the book, as well as on the Bedtime Sh'ma CD.


Tune in tomorrow for interviews with Linda Glaser (author, Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty) at ASHarmony, Claire Nivola (illustrator, Emma's Poem) at Lori Calabrese, and Evelyn Krieger (One is Not a Lonely Number) at Ima On and Off the Bima.

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