Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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 September Jewish Book Carnival

forwordsbooks is thrilled to be hosting this month’s Jewish Book Carnival, a gathering of blogs about Jewish books and other happenings in the Jewish world.  Please visit this month’s participants and comment on their web sites making sure you tell them you saw their post at the September Jewish Book Carnival.

Would you like to get to know more about the authors who write your favorite books?  Or perhaps you are looking for a little background music while you read? Check out these fantastic websites:

Listen to The Book of Life’s newest podcast episode featuring Sarah Darer Littman talking about her novel Life, After, a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for teens. Her novels are always brave, taking on subjects that others might fear to talk about.

Barbara Krasner at The Whole Megillah: The Writer’s Resource for Jewish-Themed Children’s Books provides a very special look inside the book with an Author-Agent-Editor Three-in-one Special Notebook about OyMG byAmy Fellner Dominy

Jewish Book Council’s Intern, Alyssa Berlin, discusses the trend in “Reading with Soundtracks.” This is an awesome look at the connection between books and music. Be sure you have your MP3 player and ear buds on hand.

Erika Dreifus shares a Q&A with author Anna Solomon about THE LITTLE BRIDE, Solomon’s new historical novel featuring a Jewish mail-order bride who travels from Odessa and lands in South Dakota.

With so many new books to choose from each month, it is wonderful to have dedicated reviewers to let us know about the best of the bunch.

Amy Meltzer at Homeshuling: A Jewish Parenting Blog provides an excellent review of the new Kar-Ben book, Joseph and the Sabbath Fish by Eric Kimmel in her blog Joseph and the Sabbath Fish, or I Love Eric Kimmel, Part Two.

Barbara Krasner at The Whole Megillah: The Writer’s Resource for Jewish-Themed Children’s Books reviews  OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

BostonBibliophile is taking the Art of the Novella Reading Challenge.  Read the review of her third novella, Stempenyu: A Jewish Romance by Sholem Aleichem, and follow her progress toward her goal of reading six novellas in 30 days.

Also from the Jewish Book Council, guest blogger Wayne Hoffman (Sweet Like Sugar) offers a Gay Jewish Reading List .

Visit Sylvia Rouss’ website to read her newest book, Jognau, the Dreamer, an original story by Sylvia Rouss and Raoul Wallenberg Prize winner, Ambassador Asher Naim, illustrated by Dawn Phillips.  Ambassador Naim and Sylvia have donated the story to the Scholarship Fund for Ethiopian Jews. Sylvia’s son Jordan, an attorney, and his good friend Geoffrey Bennett, an NPR producer, volunteered to produce and narrate the animated version which you can also see on the site.

Then hop over to Barbara Bietz’s  “Jewish Books for Children with Author Barbara Bietz” for some inside information from Sylvia about how she came to meet Ambassador Asher Naim and subsequently write a book in partnership with him. It is always very interesting how the stars align in writers’ lives.

Jonathan Kirsch reviews Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland, An Anthology edited by Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi, reminding us that while over half the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were Polish Jews, “Poland was the seat of a vibrant and enduring Jewish civilization that survives on the printed page and, in a real sense, in many of our own ideas about what it means to be Jewish.”

Here at forwordsbooks, we kicked off the New Year with “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far: Honoring One’s Parents/Kibud Av v’Em,” a look at books that support this most difficult of all commandments.

And last but not least, learn how the research can have a bigger impact on the writer than the writing, in this fascinating blog by Linda K. Wertheimer:

In “Visiting Mosques Teaches Countless Lessons, “Jewish Muse blogger Linda K. Wertheimer recounts the lessons she learned when she visited mosques while shadowing middle school students as they learned about world religions. She was surprised at how much she learned along with them.

As always there is much to read, explore and learn from each of these wonderful websites.  Don’t forget to tell them you were here and where you heard about them, if you drop by for a visit. Next month’s Carnival will be hosted at Homeshuling. For more information about the Jewish Book Carnival and a list of all the participants, please visit the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Jewish Book Carnival blog. Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you a sweet, healthy and book-filled New Year.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site 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.

I am learning so much – Which is why I LOVE Bloggiesta!


Plan.   Edit.   Develop.  Review. Organize.

I just learned how to create a Google Form using Google Documents. Thanks to Jen at Devourer of Books. I am working with all of Jen’s tricks to see if the form will embed in my WordPress blog. Here it is:

No problems! A couple of width changes, but it looks great. Then I decided to do a completely different form and it turned out fine as well. Wow, this could be fantastic. Thanks Jen!

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site 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.

Today My Music Died

The music died today.

Well,  my music anyway – the music that called my heart to Judaism.  I still vividly remember  driving home, from where I do not know, but I do know I was driving down Palos Verdes Boulevard in California and listening to And You Shall Be a Blessing… .  I had listened to this music repeatedly since attending the “Timbrels of Miriam” Conference at the,  at that time, University of Judaism where I purchased it.

I knew all the songs and sang along with them in order, not really understanding the Hebrew nor really listening to what I was singing. I simply loved the melodies. It was dark, I was driving alone in the car. Lechi Lach came on, and I began to sing:

Lechi lach to a land that I will show you
Lech li-cha to a place you do not know
Lechi lach on your journey I will bless you
And you shall be a blessing, you shall be a blessing
You shall be a blessing lechi lach

Suddenly, I listened to the words and understood their meaning.

Suddenly, the words made sense to me, in terms of my own life.

Suddenly, I was singing and tears were pouring out of my eyes. I had to pull over and stop the car.

I wasn’t singing a song any longer. I was hearing a message telling me that I was on a journey.  That the journey was a sacred one, and that everything would be all right.  I had God’s blessing to proceed.

Alone in the car,  I cried a little harder and a little longer, then pulled myself together and got myself home. From that moment on, Lechi Lach (Go! Go!) has been my anthem/motto/principle.  I believe it was at that moment, alone on that dark road, that I knew I would become a Jew – because of Debbie Friedman’s (z’l) incredible talent with words and music.  Now, suddenly and unexpectedly,  Debbie is gone, and my heart grieves with her family and the rest of the world as we try to determine what the future will be without her and her gifts.

I know we will travel forward to that unknown place,  carrying Debbie Friedman’s (z’l) songs and teaching in our hearts, passing them on to our children and their children far into the future. Just like the promise God made to Abraham, the singing of Debbie’s songs will be counted like the dust of the earth.  That is her blessing and our birthright.

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
CDs used in this review were from my personal collection.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a title referred to on my web site 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.

A Wake Up Call

I have not been sitting idly by watching the world around me “go to Hell in a hand basket” as my grandmother used to say. I have been more than busy for sure with children moving away, finding and starting a new job and myriad other of life’s challenges. Yesterday,  however,  I received my blog wake up call.

It’s not that I didn’t have plenty to write about when Phoebe Prince took her own life as the result of cyber bullying on the part of her classmates.

I had even more to say about the suicide of Tyler Clementi whose roommate and his girlfriend video taped Tyler in his private space and then posted the video on the internet.

I could write  for hours about the  political attack ads currently airing thanks to the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision by the Supreme Court allowing anonymity of funding sources and unrestricted donation amounts.

Yet none of these got me to sit down at my computer to blog about the childrens books and their values content that we – and the Supreme Court, Rutgers and high school students everywhere – should be reading to get ourselves back on track.  No, it was yesterday’s New York Times headline: “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children” that got my tushi in the chair.

Are they kidding – apparently not, according to this article.  The economic downturn is not the only cause of the downfall of the picture book. It’s “The Parents,” says the article.

Yes, according to the NYT parents everywhere are pushing their children out of picture books and into chapter books in order to improve their scores on standardized tests. Four-year-olds are reading Stuart Little, Five-year-olds are reading The Phantom Tollbooth. Has anyone discussed with “The Parents” the difference between reading and comprehension or the importance of choosing books for their age-appropriateness not just for reading-level? There are picture books as appropriate for adults as are for 4-8 year olds simply because the power of the words rests as much in the life experience of the reader as in word definitions. The pictures simply add to the drama of the story.

Here’s an idea: Teachers, Librarians, Children’s Book Lovers everywhere suggest that everyone go back to basics and read – a picture book!  Let’s start here:

The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper. Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska.  © 2007, Abrams Books for Young Readers.  Ages 4-8. In this very beautiful, very simple, extraordinary book, a grandfather explains the Golden Rule to his grandson. “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.” Found in all the world’s religions and cultures, it is an easy statement, but apparently very difficult to live by. As Grandfather says, “‘You can’t make everyone in the world practice the Golden Rule. There’s only one person you can ask to do that.’ ‘Me?’” Says his grandson. “‘You. It begins with you.’”

Perhaps, if we start with the basics,  the hand basket we are all riding in will change direction as a result.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

P.S. As you can imagine the Kidlitosphere has been abuzz with the news of this article in the NYT. My favorite blog was written by MotherReader and of special note is the blog of the mother interviewed in the NYT article regarding how her comments were taken out of context.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
The Book used in this review was from my personal library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site 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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