"People of the Books" Blog

AJL Presents: Books About Books Series

Holiday Highlights, Spring 2021


Contact: Heidi Rabinowitz
[email protected]



For immediate release January 5, 2021 -- The Association of Jewish Libraries is pleased to announce that four titles have been selected for its inaugural AJL Holiday Highlights list. These titles are AJL’s picks for the best Jewish holiday children’s books of Spring 2021. The Fall 2021 list will be published at the end of the summer.


“These Jewish holiday books exemplify the highest standards of authentic Jewish representation and holiday spirit in both writing and illustration,” says committee chair Heidi Rabinowitz. “Our expert judges are happy to recommend all of them for use by families, in schools, and in libraries. We hope that the publishing world will look to the quality of these examples when seeking to create new Jewish children’s holiday books.”


Holiday Highlights titles will be selected twice a year, for the spring and fall publishing seasons. Fall 2021 Holiday Highlights titles will be named in July, 2021. Digital submissions are being accepted now through THIS FORM. For print submissions, please query [email protected]


The Spring 2021 AJL Holiday Highlights are:


The Passover Guest by Susan Kusel, illustrated by Sean Rubin, published by Neal Porter Books at Holiday House. Ages 6-10  #ownvoices

Readers needn't be familiar with the original I.L. Peretz story, "The Magician", to be wowed by this fresh retelling, set in depression-era Washington DC. Illustrator Sean Rubin's incredibly detailed depictions of the Capital city in springtime perfectly complement Kusel's tale of poor Muriel, whose bare table magically overflows with a Passover feast after her encounter with a juggler who may… or may not… be the prophet Elijah.


Soosie, The Horse That Saved Shabbat by Tami Lehman-Wilzig, illustrated by Menahem Halberstadt, published by Kalaniot Books. Ages 4-8 #ownvoices

This delightful picture book is based on a true story but has a folk tale flavor. Set in Jerusalem in the early 20th century, it tells of a clever horse who delivered the challah on her own when the baker’s boy felt too ill to drive the cart. Bright, engaging illustrations bring the characters and setting to life, as Soosie travels through historic Jerusalem in this finely crafted, heartwarming story. 


The Four Questions by Lynne Sharon Schwartz, illustrated by Ori Sherman, published by Levine Querido. All ages #ownvoices

Rich illustrations depict anthropomorphized animals participating in elements of the Passover seder in this second edition of a 1989 publication, updated with an endnote on the art. Ceremonial but accessible language outlines the story of the Exodus and introduces the traditional four questions, included in Hebrew upside down on the page, allowing the book to be read from either direction and encouraging a shared experience perfect for intergenerational read-alouds or a seder night itself. 


Meet the Matzah written and illustrated by Alan Silberberg, published by Viking. Ages 4-10 #ownvoices

In a classroom populated by anthropomorphic bread products, a disruptive classmate hijacks matzah Alfie Koman's retelling of the Exodus story for Passover. Alfie must find his voice and rescue his favorite holiday from bread Loaf's goofy revisions. Silberberg's delightful, cartoonish illustrations match the exuberant tone of this hilarious read-aloud, suitable for Passover celebrants and holiday newcomers alike.


We are proud to introduce AJL’s  Holiday Highlights judges. 


Robbin Friedman is a children's librarian at the Chappaqua Library in Chappaqua, NY. She writes reviews for School Library Journal and Guessing Geisel, served on ALSC's Newbery committee, and has read Jewish holiday books her whole life.


Amy Lilien-Harper has been a professional children’s librarian since 1995.  She has served on the Newbery committee, the Caldecott committee and the ALA Notable children’s recordings committees.  She reviews picture books for School Library Journal, and has served four times on the Nutmeg Committee, which chooses books for the Connecticut Children’s choice awards.


Sylvie Shaffer is the PreK-8 librarian at the Capitol Hill Day School in Washington, DC and is active in several overlapping kidlit-focused communities including ALSC, YALSA, and Capitol Choices. Sylvie served on AJL's 2019 and 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Awards as well as on ALSC's 2018 Geisel Committee. 


To learn more about the Association of Jewish Libraries, please visit www.jewishlibraries.org


AJL Presents: The Sydney Taylor Real & Mock Book Awards

AJL Member Survey

This AJL member survey is to be used by the Strategic Planning Committee for AJL Strategic Plan development.  There are two sections; first will be specific questions related to your division (RAS/SSCPL/Both/Neither), second will be demographics.  Please keep in mind that this survey is completely ANONYMOUS. It is estimated to take approximately 20 minutes to complete. 


When you complete the survey, you will see an email address to copy and then request to be placed in one of two raffles; a set of Kar-Ben books, or a $25 gift card for Bookshop.org


Follow this link to find the survey (you will need to log in to see it): https://jewishlibraries.org/Strategic__Plan_Survey_2021


Survey Closes January 13th.

If you have any questions please contact Sean Boyle, [email protected]

AJL Conference 2021 - Call for Proposals


The Association of Jewish Libraries is now soliciting proposals for our upcoming Digital Conference 2021: Moving ForwardSunday, June 27 - Thursday, July 1, 2021. Librarians, scholars, educators, archivists, authors, and library advocates are invited to submit proposals for papers and presentations on all aspects of librarianship and on topics related to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience or Israel. Presentations should be relevant to library professionals working in academic and research institutions, archives, synagogues, day schools, or Jewish community centers as well as public schools or libraries serving Jewish communities. Past topics have included collection development and management, programming, reader advisory services, special and rare collections, archival science, cataloging and classification, Jewish literature and literacy, digital and electronic resources and emerging technologies.  All presentations will be delivered over Zoom.

Click here to submit your proposal. Co-presenters and panel presentations are welcome, however, each presenter must submit a separate proposal. All submissions must be received by January 31, 2021. If you are unable to access the Google form, contact [email protected]. Proposals will be reviewed by the Programming Committee and all applicants will be notified in March, 2021.


Thank you,


The 2021 Association of Jewish Libraries Conference Committee

[email protected] ● www.jewishlibraries.org