posted on January 22,
The Sydney TaylorBook Award Winner for Younger Readers:
Hannah’s Way by Linda Glaser with illustrations by Adam Gustavson
(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers:
His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg by Louise Borden
(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)
The Sydney Taylo rBook Award Winner for Teen Readers:
Intentions by Deborah Heiligman
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House)
Sydney Taylor Honor Books for Younger Readers:
Zayde Comes to Live by Sheri Sinykin with illustrationsby Kristina Swarner
The Elijah Door: APassover Tale by Linda Leopold Strauss with illustrations by Alexi Natchev
Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Older Readers:
The Wooden Sword: A Jewish Folktale from Afghanistan
by Ann Redisch Stampler with illustrations by Carol Liddiment
(Albert Whitman & Company)
Sydney Taylor HonorBook for Teen Readers:
Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust
by Doreen Rappaport
Notable Books forYounger Readers:
Sadie and the Big Mountain by Jamie Korngold with illustrations by Julie Fortenberry
(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)
The Schmutzy Family by Madelyn Rosenberg with illustrations by Paul Meisel
A Song for My Sister by Lesley Simpson with illustrations by Tatjana Mai-Wyss
(Random House Books for Young Readers)
Speak Up, Tommy! By Jacqueline Dembar Greene with illustrations by Deborah Melmon
(Kar-Ben, an imprint of LernerPublishing Group)
A Sweet Passover by Lesléa Newman with illustrations by David Slonim
(Abrams Books for Young Readers)
Notable Books forOlder Readers:
Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch
(Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams)
Looking for Me by Betsy R. Rosenthal
(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)
Sami’s Sleepaway Summer by Jenny Meyerhoff
Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy
(Bloomsbury USA Children)
Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House)
Notable Books forTeens:
The Last Song by Eva Wiseman
Now by Morris Gleitzman
(Henry Holt and Company)
Rachel’s Secret by Shelly Sanders
(Second Story Press)
posted on January 22,
Linda Glaser and Adam Gustavson, author and illustrator of Hannah’s Way, Louise Borden author of His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, and Deborah Heiligman, author of Intentions,are the 2013 winners of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award. The awards were announced at the Mid-Winter Meeting of the School, Synagogue and Community Center Division of the Association of Jewish Libraries.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award honorsnew books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standardswhile authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The award memorializesSydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series. Thewinners will receive their awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries Conferencein Houston, Texas this June.
Glaser and Gustavson will receive the 2013 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor BookAward’s Younger Readers category for Hannah’s Way, published by Kar-Ben,an imprint of Lerner Publishing. When Hannah’s family relocates to ruralMinnesota after her father loses his job, she is the only Jewish student in herclass. Hannah worries she will not beable to attend a Saturday class picnic when her teacher arranges a carpool. Herobservant family does not ride in cars on the Sabbath. In a delightful displayof acceptance and friendship, the entire class chooses to walk with Hannah soshe can attend the picnic. Barbara Krasner, a member of the Sydney Taylor BookAward Committee, said: "The Minnesota setting, the Depressiontimeframe, and a Jewish girl's dilemma all add up to a winning story. LindaGlaser's story and Adam Gustavson's illustrations, both meticulouslyresearched, make Hannah's Way a new classic for young readers." In 2011, Glaser received a Sydney Taylor Honor for herbook, Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty.
The award in the Older Readers category will be presented to Louise Borden for His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg,published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. Written in verse, this biography of the Swedish humanitarian highlights his commitment to rescuingJewish people in Budapest during World War II for readers aged eight to twelve.Teeming with photographs, Wallenberg’s passion for helping others is dramatically portrayed. Committee Chair, Aimee Lurie commented: “His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg shows how the courageous actions of one person, despite tremendous obstacles,can make a difference. Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression.” In 2006, Borden’s The Journey that Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margaret and H.A. Rey was a Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Younger Readers.
Deborah Heiligman will receive the 2013 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Teen Readers category for Intentions,published by Knopf Books for Young Readers an imprint of Random House,Inc. The loss of innocence Rachel Greenberg, 16, experiences when the adults inher life betray her trust and the relationship with her best friend crumbles is explored in this contemporary novel. Rachel’s home life, once calm, has now become strained; her parents are constantly bickering and her beloved grandmother’s health has deteriorated. Her uncertain home life, pales in comparison to her shattering discovery that her respected rabbi is an adulterer. Although she makes mistakes, Rachel eventually learns to cope with the revelation that no one -- including her parents, friends, and rabbi -- is perfect by relying on lessons learned from her Jewish education. Diane Rauchwerger, member of the Award Committee noted: “Rachel grows in her understanding and strength of character, while struggling with moral issues teens confront every day. Most importantly, she learns to forgive and to act with intention.”
Four Sydney Taylor Honor Books werenamed for 2013: The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale by Linda Leopold Strauss with illustrations by Alexi Natchev(Holiday House) and Zayde Comes To Live written by Sheri Sinykinand illustrated by Kristina Swarner (Peachtree Publishers) are recognized inthe Younger Readers category. The Wooden Sword by Ann RedischStampler with illustrations by Carol Liddiment (Albert Whitman & Company)garnered recognition as an Honor Book for Older Readers. For Teen Readers, thehonor goes to Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During theHolocaust by Doreen Rappaport (Candlewick).
In addition to the medal-winners, theAward Committee designated thirteen Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2013. More information about the Sydney Taylor BookAward can be found at www.SydneyTaylorBookAward.org.
# # #
posted on January 14,
We begin the New Year with a new batch of postings in the Jewish book blogosphere. I especially love seeing the year's prizes and "best of" lists for inspiration (and for mental arguments)
The Jewish Book Council announces their 2012 National Jewish Book Awards and posts their most anticipated 2013 spring titles from the Jewish Book Council.
Jonathan Kirsch reviewed The Rarest Blue by Baruch Sterman and Judy Taubes Sterman in The Jewish Journal, which bestowed its 2013 Jewish Journal Book Prize on the authors.
On MyMachberet, Erika Dreifus shares some thoughts about Karen E. Bender's new novel, A Town of Empty Rooms.
Leora Wenger reviews Jews in Gotham: New York Jews in a Changing City by Jeffrey S. Gurock, a professor of history at Yeshiva University. This volume is the last of the series City of Promises and encompasses the years 1920 to 2010.
Ann Koffsky reviews three recent picture books about Israel.
Lorri M. offers two reviews. In Saving Monticello: The Levy Family's Epic Quest to Rescue the House that Jefferson Built, by Marc Leepson, the author has given the reader an amazing overview of actual facts, data, events, timelines and the struggles that the Jewish Levy family endured, including the underlying antisemitism that was a product of the era. Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History, by Marcie Ferris and Mark I. Greenberg, contains thirteen intellectual and fascinating essays, which defines factors that differentiate “southern Jews” from the general Jewish population.
The Whole Megillah | The Writer's Resource for Jewish Story blog - offers an interview with poet Matthew Lippman.
Needle in the Bookstacks searches for recipes to warm up the winter.
posted on December 21,
At the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA, we tried, as usual, to record our sessions so that we could podcast them afterwards. We experienced extreme technical difficulties with our recordings. Most were lost; a few were saved but with the audio compromised. Of those few that were rescued, seven are now available on the AJL website, with more on the way. Please go to jewishlibraries.org/podcast
to find the newest AJL podcast episodes. You’ll find recordings of conference sessions on e-books, archives, digitization, and children’s books in translation.
Thanks to the volunteers who have been editing these recordings to get them ready for you, and thanks to all of you for your patience. I hope that the high quality of the content in the podcasts will make up for the poor sound quality!
posted on December 11,
Library Snapshot Day 2012
The People of the Book have spoken---libraries make new stories as much as hold them!
In November 2012, during Jewish Book month, Judaic libraries in synagogues, community centers, historical institutions, and day schools across North America participated in Share the Library Love, a variation of the American Library Association's Library Snapshot Day. The event, sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries, was created to display the diversity of library services and programming throughout Jewish libraries. Each participating library shared a typical day in their facilities, recording patron and circulation statistics, their unique public programs, as well as patrons' personal reflections of their own libraries. Collectively, the participating libraries served 2,015 patrons and circulated 1,490 books throughout 33 libraries.
Public Programming and Community Efforts
From Jewish hubs like Flushing, NY to smaller Jewish communities in Tulsa, OK, from historical centers to elementary schools, Jewish libraries held author visits, book sales, storytimes, craft projects, book clubs, children's creative writing clubs, movie premieres, Holocaust survivor support groups, Righteous Gentile programs, teacher Holocaust education programs, adult school, knitting clubs for charity, religious services, homework help, Student Advisory Board meetings, information literacy classes, library tours and a mock student presidential Election Day. Other community efforts included Sefer Mitzvah Magic a book program encouraging patrons to donate a book in honor or in memory of someone they love; and a weekly cyber newsletter featuring new titles, personal reflections, and announcements of library events.
Patrons had overwhelmingly positive feedback about their libraries. Patrons praised the up-to-date collections, wealth of quality resources, computer clusters, wi-fi, the helpful and nice librarians, the DVD collections, Yiddish archives, and poster and realia collections in their libraries. In addition, patrons expressed gratitude for their libraries' patron-driven purchases, flexible pick-up and book-drop hours, teacher resources, short waiting periods for popular titles, free coffee, the convenience (between dropping the kids off at Hebrew school and looking for both Jewish and secular resources, it helps when they are all in one place!), and book cart programs for surrounding schools. Additionally, patrons noted the atmosphere of their libraries, saying it has "a warm feeling" and leaves "warm memories." One patron explained "it is usually the only place I can get work done on Sunday." Other libraries were appreciated for their bean bag chairs, comfy pillows and the Yiddish Vinkl.
When asked what they love most about their own libraries, the librarians had diverse and colorful answers. Some librarians embraced their historical collections and others the architecture of their facilities. At the Temple De Hirsch Sinai Library in Seattle, Washington, the librarian shared that the library is "a very large, beautiful and historical reading room with lots of dark wood...anyone who walks in and especially those who grew up at our Temple adore this room!" Other librarians responded enthusiastically to both the challenges and successes in their libraries, such as in redesigning the facilities and assisting in helping teachers pick classroom resources. One librarian in Indianapolis, IN praised her library for "providing members with a link to their Judaism." Another librarian in Boca Raton said, "I love watching the wheels turn in the children's brains when they are really taking in a story and asking intelligent questions about it."
The Snapshots on YouTube
In addition to sharing their library love and community programming, librarians and patrons captured the images of their library which can be seen in our slideshow video: tinyurl.com/AJLlove
posted on December 04,
The Association of Jewish Libraries has created "Hanukkah Read Up!," a list of Hanukkah books for children recommended by the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee. The colorful, detailed 2-page flyer is available on the AJL website at http://tinyurl.com/AJLhanukkah.
Each of the 29 titles includes a brief summary and age recommendation. All the books on the list have been recognized by the award committee as gold or silver medalists or as "Notable Books." In addition, AJL devotes a special section of the list to the Hanukkah works of prolific author Eric A. Kimmel, a past Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award winner.
The "Hanukkah Read Up!" list will be useful to families seeking great Hanukkah gift books and seasonal stories for their children, and will serve as guidance to librarians and booksellers who wish to stock holiday titles. Libraries, booksellers and other literary groups are welcome to distribute the list, digitally or printed out, to their own users.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries to the best in Jewish children's and teen literature each year. A committee of children's librarians and other children's literature experts evaluates over one hundred books to find the best of the best. Read more about the award (and non-Hanukkah books that have won medals) at www.SydneyTaylorBookAward.org.
posted on November 26,
Erika Dreifus is our Facebook Writer-in-Residence during the month of December. Erika is the author of QUIET AMERICANS: STORIES, which is a 2012 ALA Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title.
The stories in QUIET AMERICANS are based largely on the histories and experiences of Erika's paternal grandparents, German Jews who immigrated to the United States in the late 1930s; Erika is donating portions of book-sale proceeds to The Blue Card, which supports U.S.-based survivors of Nazi persecution. Additionally, Erika—whose first paying job was serving as a library assistant at her middle school—is a prolific book reviewer and blogger and a passionate advocate for Jewish literature. A regular participant in AJL's Jewish Book Carnival
, Erika will also host the Carnival in December on My Machberet
, her blog on matters of Jewish literary and cultural interest. She anticipates an exciting month in discussion with AJL's Facebook community and welcomes any early questions or suggestions you may have. Please visit her online at www.erikadreifus.com
posted on November 06,
Dear AJL Members,
I'm sure that many of you were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The AJL Council has asked me to let you know that we are thinking of you. We hope that you are your loved ones are safe and that you avoided major damage at home and at your libraries.
President, Association of Jewish Libraries
and the entire AJL Council
posted on October 11,
Entries are now being considered for the 2013 Sydney Taylor Book Award, which recognizes the best children’s literature of Jewish content. Publishers are invited to submit any books of Jewish content for children and teens with a 2012 copyright.
The criteria used to evaluate books for the Sydney Taylor Book Award are:
· The book has literary merit.
· The book has positive or authentic Jewish religious or cultural content.
· The book is appropriate for the intended grade level in style, vocabulary, format,and illustration.
· Whether fiction or nonfiction, the book is solidly rooted in authentic and accurate detail, through scholarship and research by the author.
· Textbooks and reprints are not eligible, although revised editions and re-illustrated editions are eligible.
In order to be considered, a review copy of each title must be sent to each member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. No application form is necessary; simply mail the books in a package labeled “Sydney Taylor Book Award Submission.” By submitting a title to the committee you are granting permission to use the book jacket image in any Sydney Taylor Book Award promotional materials.
The Awards will be announced in January 2013. To ensure that the Committee has enough time to evaluate all of the submissions, there is no guarantee that books received after December 1, 2012 will be considered for the awards. Please send submissions as soon as they are available. The Committee is happy to receive a prepublication version while waiting for the bound book.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee looks forward to evaluating your new books! For additional information and a commitee roster, contact: Aimee Lurie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
posted on October 02,
How many people visit the library in a single day?
How many books does the library have?
How many books circulate per day?
Help answer these questions for patrons by participating in AJL's Library Snapshot Day!
Library Snapshot Day is a collaborative and creative project that captures the diversity of our library services and informs patrons about our hard work and programming throughout libraries in synagogues, community centers, day schools, universities and other institutions. The final project will not only feature our facilities, but inform the public about our year-round resources and commitment.
This is a unique advocacy tool that will display the impact of our Judaic libraries through a combination of library snapshots and AJL library statistics. During Hanukkah, we will publicize the photographs and stats on our blog, Facebook page, Twitter, through press releases, and via ALA. This powerful portrait will show patrons the gift they have given to themselves: the library!
How to participate:
1) Email me, AJL PR Chair Danielle Winter, at email@example.com to let me know of your interest. (I'd like to have a rough estimate of how many libraries plan to participate in the project).
2) Pick a single day between November 1st-14th, 2012 and record for that day only:
a) how many books circulated, being borrowed and returned (in-house materials may be included.)
b) how many people stepped through the door.
c) how many reference questions were answered.
d) how many volumes of books the library owns.
e) how many programs were happening in the library that day (reading groups, book clubs, etc.)
3) Take some pictures of patrons engaging in the library, but you must ask permission from the patron first. The photographs may be displayed in the final presentation online.
4) Have five of your regular patrons write (or type) a brief comment about why they love their library.
5) Email the statistics, photographs and patron responses (results from step #2-4) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by November 15, 2012.
I encourage you to participate within all elements of the project, but if that is not possible, any information you can share about your “Day in the Life” of your library will contribute greatly to AJL’s Library Snapshot Day. In 2010, 30 libraries participated and it would be great to see many more represented!
I look forward to your participation. If you have questions or comments about this project, do not hesitate to contact me!
posted on September 28,
Association of Jewish Libraries
48th Annual Conference
June 16-19, 2013
The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) will hold its 48th Annual Conference at the Hilton Houston Post Oak June 16-19th, 2013. Librarians, educators, archivists, scholars, authors and others will meet to share their interest in Judaica librarianship and related topics.
AJL is inviting proposals for papers and presentations on any aspect of Judaic librarianship or scholarship as it pertains to libraries, archives, museums, schools, synagogues and related institutions. Of special interest this coming year are topics relating to current trends and challenges in the field; management of synagogue and day school libraries; collection development; volunteer management; readers advisory; adult programming; technology, apps and e-books; 21st century library design; cataloging and classification; Sephardic subject matter and RDA.
Submissions should include:
* Presenter's name, address, affiliation, telephone numbers and email contact.
* Brief biography.
* Title of proposed presentation.
* Summary of proposal.
* Specific technology or equipment requirements, if any.
All submissions must be received by November 30, 2102. Submissions can be sent electronically to email@example.com.
Proposals will be reviewed by the Program Planning Committee, which is composed of national and local AJL members. Notification will be made in January 2013.
posted on July 16,
The Jewish Book Carnival is a monthly event where book bloggers who promote Jewish literature come together to share some of their best content from the past month. Hosted by a different blog each month, the Carnival offers a roundup of links to great articles, book reviews, essays, and interviews.
The seed for the Jewish Book Carnival was planted when AJL blogger Heidi Estrin attended the first Book Blogger Convention at Book Expo America in 2010. She brought the idea to AJL consultant Marie Cloutier, and together they recruited other bloggers and set up the Jewish Book Carnival.
The first Jewish Book Carnival was posted in July, 2010, two years ago this month. It was hosted on AJL's own blog, People of the Books. You can see that very first post here
. From the outset, the Carnival got excellent participation across the blogosphere. Regular contributors include The Prosen People (the blog of the Jewish Book Council), The Whole Megillah, My Machberet, Jewesses with Attitude (the blog of the Jewish Women's Archive), Homeshuling, and more. See the Jewish Book Carnival HQ
for links to participating blogs, and for an archive of past Carnivals.
This anniversary Carnival is hosted by The Whole Megillah: The Writer's Resource for Jewish-themed Story: Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry. Barbara Krasner, writer, editor, and member of AJL's Sydney Taylor Book Award committee, is the blog host. She posts excellent interviews with members of the Jewish literary community, from authors to agents to librarians, as well as beautifully clear book reviews. This month she graciously hosts the July Jewish Book Carnival
, which includes reviews, interviews, and personal essays.
We hope you enjoy this monthly list of links! When you visit the various blogs, please leave comments so that the bloggers know you're out there; they appreciate the feedback so much. Thanks to all the bloggers who make the Jewish Book Carnival happen, and to the readers who care about Jewish books!
posted on July 06,
Yona Zeldis McDonough is our Facebook Writer-in-Residence during the month of July! She is the author of four novels, the most recent of which, A WEDDING IN GREAT NECK, will be out in October 2012. She is also the author of 19 books for children, including THE DOLL WITH THE YELLOW STAR, which won an award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and THE CATS IN THE DOLL SHOP, which was named a notable book by the Sydney Taylor committee. Additionally, she is the editor of two essay collections and her essays, stories and articles have appeared in numerous national and literary publications. For the past twelve years, she has been the fiction editor at Lilith Magazine, a feminist, Jewish quarterly. Learn more about her at www.yonazeldismcdonough.com
We're only a few days into July, but already Yona has provided us with links to interesting blogs, literary events, author websites, and prize-winning Jewish fiction.
You don't need to be a Facebook user to access these links (although logging into Facebook and "liking" AJL will allow you to leave your own comments). To view Yona's reading suggestions, simply go to facebook.com/jewishlibraries
Let us know what you think of our new Facebook Writer-in-Residence program, whether you think we should do it again, and to suggest writers from whom you'd like to hear.
posted on June 14,
Live coverage of the AJL Convention in Pasadena, CA will be available via Facebook, June 17-20, 2012. AJL volunteers will be posting news, comments, and photos at www.facebook.com/jewishlibraries
If you are a Facebook user, please click LIKE on our page - but even if you don't use Facebook, you can still read all our convention news at www.facebook.com/jewishlibraries
We hope you'll get a taste of the convention excitement, and perhaps we'll see you live at the 2013 convention in Houston, TX!
posted on May 24,
Float your cursor over the image to bring up links to convention speakers, tours, and other info!
posted on May 24,
Pasadena, California will be the host for the Association of Jewish Libraries convention from Sunday, June 17th to Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, offering four days brimming with popular speakers, stimulating roundtables, professional sessions, workshops, tours, exhibits and award banquets. The site for AJL's 47th annual convention is the landmark Langham Huntington hotel.
Sunday’s schedule includes a tour of Jewish Los Angeles. Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Professor at Hebrew Union College, examines Peoples of the Book: Jews in Qu’ran and Jews on the Qu’ran at Monday’s opening plenary session. American Library Association President Molly Raphael headlines the closing plenary on Wednesday by imagining thriving 21st Century Libraries.
Topics vary to serve many interests. Local authors and award winning illustrators review their latest publications and works in progress. Book award judges critique and debate Jewish books for adults, young adults, and picture book readers. Comic book authors and graphic novelists discuss their crafts. E-book and self-publishing hints anchor panels. Jewish genealogy offers the latest expert techniques. Learn about Jewish libraries in the Middle Ages, Israel’s modern National Library or new Jewish Public Libraries.
Diverse sessions feature Jewish culture in stories, art and Broadway and Hollywood musicals. History salutes Jews in China, Groundbreaking Women Clergy in LA and Jews in the Civil War, marking its 150th anniversary. Panel members dialog on current topics including one on mounting original documents for public display by the Huntington Library’s John Sullivan and Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance’s Adaire Klein. Local librarians may wish to attend sessions covering digitization or cataloging or archives management.
Visitors are welcome to attend sessions which spark their curiosity or intellect. They can register with AJL online at www.jewishlibraries.org
or in person on June 17th at the AJL desk in the hotel to pay on a per diem basis or for the convention package. The conference concludes with tours to the Skirball Center, the Museum of Tolerance or Huntington Library.
posted on May 02,
The Association of Jewish Libraries is conducting a brief survey to assess how well our conventions serve our membership. We want to hear from those who do not attend our conventions as well as from those who have attended.
We will consider these survey results in conjunction with other tools and data being used in the evaluation process. Our goals are to support the professional needs of members with innovative and less costly conventions.
Results of the survey will be shared in the summer AJL News and at the 47th Annual AJL Convention in Pasadena in June of 2012. Recommendations for any convention changes will be presented at the AJL Council meeting, to take place on June 17th in Pasadena.
You have until Thursday, May 10 to complete the Association of Jewish Libraries survey about conventions. It should take no more than 10 minutes of your time. Please visit the link below to participate.
Many thanks to those who have already submitted opinions!
posted on April 23,
Jean Naggar, author of the memoir Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt, shares with us some thoughts on the art of the memoir. Enter our drawing for a free copy of Sipping from the Nile by leaving a comment on AJL's Facebook page at facebook.com/jewishlibraries by April 30, 2012! And now, let's hear from Jean, herself:
I never planned to write a memoir. Fiction was my passion, and if I was ever granted time to write, I knew it would be a novel. The catalyst that started the process of writing my memoir came zooming out of left field soon after the births of my first grandchildren. I realized then that they would be growing up so distant from me in generation, time, and space, that they would never be able to imagine the childhood I had experienced, or to know the people who had woven the magical fabric of my young years. Looking back, I realized that the community and the world I had known had completely disappeared. It began to seem increasingly important to write them back into being, to preserve their vibrant personalities and idiosyncrasies, along with the rich and complicated world in which they flourished.
I had grown up in a large extended Sephardic family in Egypt, before the Suez crisis of 1956 put an end to that life and that world. This newborn generation sending billows of joy to my heart held the key to the future, but I held the key to their past. They were entitled to find it, if they ever went seeking.
So I thought I should jot down a few memories of my childhood in moments stolen from a busy life. I never meant to share my reflections with the world. I wrote for my family. But as I began to open locked doors and allow the past back in, more and more memories, more scenes, more scents and sounds of a lost world swelled into being and jostled in my mind for attention. Soon, I began to write for the immense pleasure in the craft, and the satisfaction of feeling that I was rendering homage to those who came before me, and laying a path for those in search of themselves to follow. I began to see that I, myself, was a mere fragment in time, the sum of choices made by unknown ancestors, in a distant past.
The more I worked on draft after draft, the more I came to an understanding that memoir is both unique, and universal. As readers began to respond to what I had written, I learned that each personal memoir holds truths and commonalities way beyond those experienced by the writer. Every life, whatever the circumstances, turns out to be a universal tale of reversals and transformations, shaped by the storms of politics, economics, wars, and losses; the prism through which each tale is viewed is what bends the experience into widely differing shapes for each individual. Every memoir is an attempt to make sense of it all, to seek out a vanished past that leaves its faint footprint in the present.
We live in an era of emails and text messages that leave little possibility for future generations to discover a bundle of letters bound with blue ribbon in an attic. History and biography are always colored by the politics of the day. So I believe that personal memoir will probably be the only true witness for future generations to learn how we really lived, and who we were.
In striving to make sense of our own lives, we are drawn to read about the lives of others. Whether those lives mirror our own or offer a taste of exotica or trauma we have not shared, we enter them for a brief time, taking pleasure or pain in the sharing, and always finding a common humanity.
For me, writing my memoir, Sipping From the Nile, was a transformational experience. I laid the past to rest. The echo of my life bounced back to me across the topography of decades, bringing resolution, self-knowledge, meaning, and substance to the present.
About Jean Naggar
Jean Naggar was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She grew up in Cairo, moving to England, and then New York City, where she currently resides. She is the founder of the prominent Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc. Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Village Voice and Publishers Weekly. She is the mother of three adult children and grandmother of seven. Now, she is at last exploring her childhood dreams: to write.
Her memoir of a magical childhood, SIPPING FROM THE NILE, My Exodus from Egypt, is available in print, Kindle and audio versions at the following link: Amazon, or you can visit her at: www.jeannaggar.com and www.JVNLA.com.
posted on March 20,
Katie Davis, host of the award-winning children's literature podcast, Brain Burps About Books
, has created a special episode focused exclusively on the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Davis is a long-time fan of author Sydney Taylor and of the award named in her memory. The special episode features interviews with each of this year's gold medalists and can be found at http://katiedavis.com/sydney-taylor-award-winners/
Michael J. Rosen and Robert Sabuda, author and artist of Chanukah Lights
, Susan Goldman Rubin, author of Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein
, and Robert Sharenow, author of The Berlin Boxing Club
,are the 2012 winners of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award. All four winners appear in lively interview segments on Brain Burps About Books
The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family
series. The winners will receive their awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Pasadena, California this June.
Brain Burps About Books
Children's author/illustrator Katie Davis has published nine books and appears monthly on the ABC affiliate show, Good Morning Connecticut, recommending great books for kids. She produces Brain Burps About Books, a podcast about kidlit, a blog and monthly newsletter. You can find her podcast at http://katiedavis.com/category/podcast/
posted on March 12,
The Research Libraries, Archives, and Special Collections Division of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) is very pleased to announce the winner of its 2012 Judaica Bibliography Award.
The winner is Bibliographia Karaitica
published by Brill. Edited by Barry Dov Walfish and Mikhail Kizilov, this work is a mammoth bibliography that captures every conceivable aspect of Karaite literature and culture. Bibliographia Karaitica
is not only the most comprehensive, superior bibliography in its field, but also a magnificent scholarly work that will stand out for its quality and serve generations of scholars for many years to come.. More information on the Bibliography can be found at http://www.brill.nl/bibliographia-karaitica
Thanks to Our Sponsors
We would like to thank Eric Chaim Kline of Los Angeles, who sponsors the annual Judaica Bibliography Award. The 2012 award will be presented at the AJL 47th Annual Convention banquet, which will take place on Tuesday evening, June 19, 2012 at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California.
For more information about AJL's Judaica Reference & Bibliography Awards, including past winners, please visit http://jewishlibraries.org/ajlweb/awards/ref_and_bib.htm
The Reference & Bibliography Awards Committee includes Michlean Amir (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), Yoram Bitton (Hebrew Union College), Rachel Leket-Mor (Arizona State University), Daniel Rettberg (Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati), Pinchas Roth (Hebrew University), Rachel Simon (Princeton University), and Daniel Scheide, chair (Florida Atlantic University).