Archive for January, 2014

The 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Awards

The Association of Jewish Libraries announced the winners of the 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Awards this morning. This is a wonderful collection of the best Jewish children’s books published last year. While I have not read every single book on this list, I have read most of them, and I encourage you to locate these treasures in your local bookstore or library to bring home to your family. If you want to learn more about the authors and illustrators of these books, follow the Sydney Taylor Award Blog Tour that begins on February 16. Now for that announcement:


AJLlogo   SydneyGold

  2014 Sydney Taylor Book Awards Announced by AJL

 Laurel Snyder and Catia Chien, author and illustrator of The Longest Night:  A Passover Story, Patricia Polacco author and illustrator of The Blessing Cup, and Neal Bascomb, author of The Nazi Hunters:  How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi, are the 2014 winners of the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Younger Readers Award


Snyderand Chien will receive the 2014 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Younger Readers category for  The Longest Night:  A Passover Story, published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. Written in gentle verse, the tumultuous days leading up to the Jews flight from Egypt are described from the perspective of an unnamed slave girl in this beautifully illustrated story. It provides a unique introduction to the Passover holiday for young readers in an honest, but age-appropriate way. Committee member Charna Gross notes: “We all know about our history as slaves in Egypt, the ten plagues, the Exodus, and the splitting of the Red Sea. But in Snyder’s retelling, accompanied by Chien’sdream-like illustrations, we are somehow transported to the rusty red banks of the Nile, witnessing each plague. This book is a marvel.”

Older Readers Award

BlessingCupThe award in the Older Readers category will be presented to Patricia Polacco for The Blessing Cupa Paula Wiseman Book,  published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In this prequel to The Keeping Quilt, Polacco shares the story of another treasured family heirloom. The miraculous journey of the remaining teacup from a china tea set, deliberately left behind when her Jewish ancestors were forced to leave Czarist Russia, from the shtetl to America will strike an emotional chord with readers. “I was moved to tears reading this book. The gorgeous illustrations and heartfelt story remind readers of the importance of sharing from generation to generation our own family histories and the incredible sacrifices made by our ancestors to start new lives in America,” said committee chair, Aimee Lurie. In 1988, The Keeping Quilt was the Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers.
Teen Readers Award

NaziHuntNeal Bascomb will receive the 2014 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Teen Readers category for The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. A stunning account of the spy mission to capture Adolf Eichmann by an elite team of Israeli spies is dramatically brought to life by Neal Bascomb.   According to committee member Barbara Krasner, “It is obvious that he spent decades conducting meticulous research on several continents to produce this winning and chilling narrative. Bascomb has set a new nonfiction gold standard for young readers.”

Honor BooksSydneySilver

Six Sydney Taylor Honor Books were named for 2014:

Honor Books for Younger Readers

Stones for Grandpa by Renee Londoner with illustrations by Martha Avillés. (Kar-Ben Publishing, a Division of Lerner Publications)

Rifka Takes a Bow by Betty Rosenberg Perlov with illustrations by Cosei Kawa. (Kar-Ben Publishing, a Division of Lerner Publications)

Honor Books for Older Readers

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible…on Schindler’s List by Leon Leyson with Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth B. Leyson (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)

Dear Canada: Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1948 by Carol Matas (Scholastic Canada)

Honor Books for Teen Readers

Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati (Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide)

The War Within These Walls by Aline Sax with illustrations by Caryl Strzelecki and translated by Laura Watkinson (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers).


Notable Books

In addition to the medal-winners, the Award Committee designated thirteen Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2014.

Notable Books for Younger Readers

Benny’s Mitzvah Notes by Marc Lumer (Hachai Publishing)

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909  by Michelle Markel with illustrations by Melissa Sweet (Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street by Ann Redisch Stampler with illustrations by Francesca Carabelli (Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.)

Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown with illustrations by Stacey Schuett (Henry Holt and Company, LLC)

The Passover Lamb by Linda Elovitz Marshall with illustrations by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.)

Our Special New Baby by Chava Cohen with illustrations by Rivkie Braverman (Feldheim Publishers)


Notable Books for Older Readers

The Barefoot Book of Jewish Tales by Shoshana Boyd Gelfand with illustrations by Amanda Hall story CD narrated by Debra Messing (Barefoot Books Inc)

B.U.G (Big Ugly Guy) by Jane Yolem and Adam Stemple (Dutton’s Children Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA Inc.)

Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Touched by Fire by Irene N. Watts (Tundra Books)

When Hurricane Katrina Hit Home by Gail Langer Karwoski with illustrations by Julia Marshall (The History Press)


Notable Books for Teens

Helga’s Diary: A Young Girl’s Account of Life in a Concentration Camp by Helga Weisstranslated by Neil Bermel Introduction by Francine Prose (W.W. Norton & Company)

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust by Leanne Lieberman (Orca Book Publishers)

More information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award can be found at

Please join me in congratulating these extraordinary authors and illustrators on their achievement and thanking the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee for the time and effort they put in to reaching this remarkable list of outstanding titles.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

 ©2014 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and All rights reserved.

The Four Corners of Our Feet: Hameichin Mitzadei Gaver/ Who Strengthens Our Steps

Books used in this review are from my personal library or were provided by my local public library. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my website and purchase it from Amazon, I may receive a very small commission on your purchase. You will incur no additional cost, however. I appreciate your support.
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We are on the sixth blessing of the Nisim B’Chol Yom/the blessings for daily miracles recited during morning prayers:


“Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,

Who strengthens our steps.”


For a number of reasons, I recently began practicing Yoga (again!) I want to see if keeping my body a bit more flexible will assist in alleviating some of the discomfort I have been experiencing in my back and neck. While doing the practice, I have discovered that rather than focusing on my spine, arms or legs, I seem to be concentrating on what my feet are doing. The teacher I use encourages me to “stand on the four corners of” my feet. Interestingly, when I do that, the rest of my body seems to fall into place.

While I certainly understand what it means to “be grounded” and have discovered many ways to get myself to that feeling, the Yoga experience is slightly different. Rather than “grounding” myself to keep my head connected to my body, Yoga enables me to “ground” myself in order to keep all the parts of my body connected, healthy and working together. The experience is extraordinary and strengthening.

Prayer, “grounding,” Yoga or some other focused meditation on our feet, is a powerful way to connect with our life’s path. It appears that in “strengthening our steps,” The Holy One of Being points us in the right direction for whatever journey we may be taking today.

Happy Reading!


Kathy B.

 dancingWingsDancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. ©2000. Philomel. Ages 6-10.  What do you do when your too-big feet, your too-long legs and your big mouth get in the way of your dream of becoming a star ballerina? Sassy does everything she can to realize her dream when the Dance Festival Director comes to town to audition students, but may have gone too far with the orange leotard. Based on the author’s true life experiences.



The Foot Book Written and Illustrated By Dr. Seuss. ©1968. Random House. Ages 3-7.  Who knows more about feet and what they can do than Dr. Seuss? “Oh, how many feet you meet!”


 HarrisFeetHarris Finds His Feet Written and Illustrated By Catherine Rayner. ©2008. Good Books. Ages 5-8.  Harris wants to know why he has such big feet. So he asks his Grandpa who leads him on a wondrous journey of discovery and ultimately independence.


The Queen’s Feet by Sarah Ellis. Illustrated by Dušan Petričić. ©2006. Red Deer Press. Ages 5-8. Queen Daisy is a wonderful ruler, except that her feet have a mind of their own. Whether tap dancing or walking in the fish pond, wearing boots that thumped through the palace halls or sandals to show off her toenail polish, her feet did and wore whatever they QueensFeetwanted. All that was fine, until her feet kicked a visiting king in the shins – well, he was a bully – but that was rude! Then the wizards and wise people of the country had to get involved.


©2014 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and All rights reserved.