"People of the Books" Blog

2020 Sydney Taylor Book Awards Announced

For More Information Contact:

Rebecca Levitan, Chair
Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
Association of Jewish Libraries

www.sydneytaylorbookawards.org
[email protected]

January 27, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners Announced

Winners of the annual Sydney Taylor Book Award were announced by the Association of Jewish Libraries today in Philadelphia, PA at the Youth Media Awards announcement at the American Library Association. 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. 

2020 is the first year the Sydney Taylor Honor Books have been included along with the winners  in the announcements at the American Library Association Youth Media Awards press conference.

GOLD MEDALISTS

The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come by Sue Macy, illustrated by Stacy Innerst, published by Paula Wiseman Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is the winner in the Picture Book category. The Book Rescuer celebrates the power of an individual to preserve history and culture, while also exploring timely themes of identity and immigration. In a folksy voice, this biography tells the story of Yiddish Book Center founder Aaron Lansky’s commitment to rescuing Yiddish language books and ensuring that despite all odds, Yiddish language and culture will stay alive for future generations. 

White Bird: A Wonder Story by R. J. Palacio, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, an Imprint of Alfred A. Knopf,  a division of Penguin Random House, is the winner in the Middle Grade category. This beautifully illustrated graphic novel connects the Holocaust to familiar contemporary characters, as Julian from the Wonder series learns his grandmother’s powerful story of rescue in Vichy-occupied France.

Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House, is the winner in the Young Adult category. In this lushly written historical novel, Lillia and her father and sister flee Warsaw during the Holocaust and take refuge in Shanghai, China. There, Lillia’s need to support her family, her relationships with others, and her awareness of her privilege even as a refugee all contribute to her growth. 

Lesléa Newman is the winner of the Sydney Taylor Body of Work Award. As the author of 70 books for all ages, she has helped broaden the scope of Jewish children’s books over her prolific career. She has received the Sydney Taylor Award for Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed, a Sydney Taylor Honor this year for Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story and four Sydney Taylor Notables

SILVER MEDALISTS

Six Sydney Taylor Honor Books were recognized. 

For Picture Books, the Honor Books are Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams Books and The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group. 

For Middle Grade, the Honor Books are Anya and the Dragon by Sofiya Pasternack, published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany by Andrew Maraniss, published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.

For Young Adult, the Honor Books are Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life and Work by Victoria Ortiz, published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,  and Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz, published by Entangled Teen, an imprint of Entangled Publishing.

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated eight Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2020. 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

The Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Committee did not designate a winner for 2020.

Winning authors and illustrators will receive their awards at the Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries, to be held in Evanston, IL, from June 29 to July 1, 2020. Gold and silver medalists will participate in a blog tour from February 9 to 13, 2020. For more information about the blog tour, please visit www.jewishlibraries.org. For an exclusive interview with Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee Chair please visit The Book of Life Podcast at www.bookoflifepodcast.com.

Members of the 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award committee are Chair Rebecca Levitan, Baltimore County Public Library; Baltimore, MD; Rena Citrin, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago, IL; Shoshana Flax, The Horn Book, Inc., Boston, MA; Marjorie Ingall, Freelance Writer, New York, NY; Sylvie Shaffer, Capitol Hill Day School, Washington, DC; Marjorie Shuster, Congregation Emanuel, New York, NY; and Rivka Yerushalmi, Jewish Women International Libraries, Rockville, MD.

The Association of Jewish Libraries, the leading authority on Judaic librarianship, promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. The Association fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience and Israel.


Sydney Taylor Book Award gold seal

The 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Awards

Association of Jewish Libraries

 

Picture Book Winner

The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come by Sue Macy, illustrated by Stacy Innerst, published by
Paula Wiseman Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

 

Middle Grade Winner

White Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio, illustrated by the author, published by
Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House Children’s Books

 

Young Adult Winner

Someday We Will Fly by Rachel Dewoskin, published by  Viking, an imprint of
Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House

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Picture Book Honors

Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams Books.

 

The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music by Debbie Levy, illustrated by
Sonja Wimmer, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group

 

Middle Grade Honors

Games of Deception: The True Story of the First US Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany by Andrew Maraniss, published by Philomel Books,
an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House

 

Anya and the Dragon by Sofiya Pasternack, published by Versify,
an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

 

Young Adult Honors

Dissenter on the Bench by Victoria Ortiz, published by Clarion Books,
an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

 

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz, published by Entangled Teen, 

an imprint of Entangled Publishing LLC

 

Picture Book Notables

Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope by Mara Rockliff,  

illustrated by Zosia Dzierzawska, published by Candlewick Press

 

A Scarf for Keiko by Ann Malaspina, illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard,
published by Kar-Ben Publishing, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group

 

Parrots, Pugs and Pixie Dust: A Book about Fashion Designer Judith Leiber by
Deborah Blumenthal, illustrated by Masha D’yans, published by Little Bee Books

 

Middle Grade Notables

Masters of Silence by Kathy Kacer, published by Annick Press

 

A Boy is Not a Bird by Edeet Ravel, published by Groundwood Books

 

Rachel’s Roses by Ferida Wolff, illustrated by Margeaux Lucas, published by Holiday House

 

Young Adult Notables

In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton, published by Algonquin Young Readers, an imprint of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing

A Light in the Darkness: Janusz Korczak, His Orphans, and the Holocaust by Albert Marrin, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House Children’s Books

 

~~~~~~

Body-of-Work Award Winner
Lesléa Newman

 

~~~~~~

 

Manuscript Award Winner

There was no Manuscript Award Winner awarded for 2020.

 

~~~~~~

 

For more information contact:

Rebecca Levitan, Chair

Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, Association of Jewish Libraries

[email protected]
www.sydneytaylorbookawards.org

Fighting Antisemitism with AJL


In response to rising antisemitism, AJL offers this symbol of solidarity and learning for use on social media. We encourage all allies to download the image above (or the alternatively sized images below) to share or to use as profile pictures on their social networks, in response to incidents of antisemtism or at any time. The image has been designed not only to show solidarity, but to suggest that reading and learning about Jews, and befriending Jews on the page as well as in real life, are paths to a more humane world.

In the spirit of building empathy through reading, AJL also offers the Love Your Neighbor series of book lists for young readers. The Love Your Neighbor project began in 2018 as a response to the act of antisemitic domestic terrorism that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Four lists were compiled, recommending titles about allyship, Jewish ritual, the American Jewish experience, and interfaith friendship. After the notably violent Hanukkah season of 2019, AJL returned to the project and added a fifth list to demystify Orthodox Judaism for readers. The picture books, middle grade chapter books, and YA novels on these lists are recommended for use with readers of ALL backgrounds in libraries, schools, bookstores, book clubs, homes, and anywhere that youth literature is enjoyed.

The Love Your Neighbor series includes:

Keep an eye on the Love Your Neighbor page for new lists in this growing project.

 

ADDITIONAL SOLIDARITY IMAGES

For Twitter

AJL Solidarity Image for Twitter

 

For Facebook

AJL Solidarity Image for Facebook



Statement on Recent Events at YIVO

The Association of Jewish Libraries is dismayed by the decision of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research to fire its librarians.

The difficulty of funding is one that we feel deeply within the world of libraries and archives, with few funders and many institutions applying for the same funding. We would caution, however, that replacing expert librarians with non-librarians also has results that could impact an institution in the long run. There are the obvious concerns of divvying up the jobs of four employees among employees that already have full-time responsibilities. More than that, though, subject librarians are trained in the nuances of a particular area of research. The YIVO librarians had an expertise in Yiddish bibliography that, like YIVO’s Yiddish book collection, is unsurpassed, and the loss of their curatorial expertise is a loss for all YIVO users and for the collection.

Librarians often have connections to colleagues in their area at other institutions, and can connect researchers with relevant resources around the world. This was made exceptionally clear through the joint partnership of the YIVO librarians with the National Library of Lithuania to integrate discovery for books in both collections. We certainly hope that the decision to terminate their librarians was a temporary move on YIVO’s part, and we look forward to hearing about how this august institution will maintain its reputation and unique library collections in the coming weeks and months. YIVO's decision to remove all Library staff is also a decision to remove themselves from the larger active Judaica library community. As the many responses from across the world have already shown in just a few days, we already see the loss to the entire Judaica library and scholarly communities.

As the leading authority on Judaic Librarianship, AJL stands with the community in encouraging YIVO to reinstate the librarians to continue their critical work.

 

AJL's 2020 Jewish Fiction Award

The Association of Jewish Libraries Announces the 2020 Winners of the Jewish Fiction Award

Goldie Goldbloom is the winner of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) Jewish Fiction Award for her novel On Division, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize and support to attend the 56th Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries in Evanston, IL, June 29-July 1, 2020. One honor book was also recognized: The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer, published by Knopf. The Committee reviewed over 75 works of fiction originally written in English with significant Jewish thematic content published in the United States in 2019. Thanks to all those who submitted entries for consideration. The wide array of books published in 2019 is a testament to the vibrant state of contemporary Jewish fiction.

Cover of On DivisionCover of Flight Portfolio“In On Division, Goldbloom writes about Surie, a newly-pregnant fifty-seven year old mother, grandmother, and almost great-grandmother living in the Chasidic community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Haunted by the death of her son Lipa, Surie finds herself keeping this pregnancy a secret from everyone, including her beloved husband. The author, a member of the Chasidic community, writes with accuracy, authenticity, and respect – celebrating the positive aspects of the community with beauty, warmth, and love while also exposing negative, harmful, and shameful practices. The result is a multi-layered story of how secrets can shake even the most secure and close-knit families that is accessible to readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the insular world of ultra-Orthodox Jews,” noted Rachel Kamin, member of the Award Committee.

“In The Flight Portfolio author Julie Orringer imagines the daring and conflicted existence of the little-known real-life hero Varian Fry as he sets up a rescue operation in Vichy France, helping artists, writers and intellectuals, mainly Jewish, escape from their increasingly precarious existence to safety in America. As the Nazis increase their presence and control, he and his assistants evade German and Vichy authorities, search for new escape routes, work around American governmental indifference, and wrangle eccentric personalities. The author’s gorgeous writing and well-researched historical background plunge the reader into the dangers of life in southern France in 1940 with a love story, a suspenseful escape story, and the ethical question of whom do you save when all are worth saving,” commented Merrily Hart, member of the Award Committee.

The AJL Jewish Fiction Award Committee members are Merrily Hart, Rachel Kamin, Rosalind Reisner, Laura Schutzman, and Sheryl Stahl.

The Association of Jewish Libraries gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Dan Wyman Books for underwriting the Award. Submissions for the 2021 AJL Fiction Award (titles published in 2020) are now being accepted. For more information, please visit www.jewishlibraries.org.

The Association of Jewish Libraries is an all-volunteer professional organization that promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. The Association fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience and Israel.

Statement from the Association of Jewish Libraries Regarding Recent Antisemitic Acts

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) is horrified by the recent spate of antisemitic attacks, especially those that took place during the holiday of Hanukkah. The shooting at a kosher market in New Jersey and the stabbing at a Hanukkah party in New York made national news; at the same time, there has been a tidal wave of verbal abuse, physical violence, and widespread vandalism of Jewish spaces. We mourn the tragic loss of life, offer prayers of recovery for victims, and urge all to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in the face of intimidation.

As an international organization of librarians, archivists, researchers, writers, teachers, and lovers of literature, AJL seeks to educate the public and provide resources to fight this scourge of ignorance and hate. After the 2018 attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, AJL published the Love Your Neighbor series of youth booklists. These recommended titles demystify the Jewish experience for readers, with the aim of helping them grow in understanding and empathy. We will continue to update and add to this series in the new year. We call upon educators and librarians of all backgrounds to share this resource with their communities, and to reach out to AJL for more ways to learn about and support Jewish neighbors. Please contact [email protected] to see how you can help.

We will not allow our communities to accept antisemitic terrorism or any other form of hate crime as "the new normal." We will spread knowledge to fight hate. Please join us.

The Association of Jewish Libraries - The Leading Authority on Judaic Librarianship
www.jewishlibraries.org