Posts Tagged ‘Sydney Taylor Book Awards’

The Results are In…

The Association of Jewish Libraries’ Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee announced its 2011 winners today.

And the Winners are:

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers:

Gathering Sparks by Howard Schwartz with illustrations by Kristina Swarner. Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. A simple and beautiful story about Tikkun Olam/Repairing the World.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers:

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch. Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams. A delightful. The tag line says it all,a story about “yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.”

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers:

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt. Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. An extraordinary novel about the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on a family and especially on the relationship between two brothers.

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Younger Readers:

Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book by Sarah Gershman with illustrations by Kristina Swarner. EKS Publishing. A marvelous way to start your day.

Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser with illustrations by Claire A. Nivola. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. Provides a real understanding of the woman behind the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin with illustrations by Jaime Zollars. Marshall Cavendish Children. The classic Purim story is back with some minor revisions and beautiful new illustrations.

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Older Readers:

Resistance by Carla Jablonski with illustrations by Leland Purvis. First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. An exceptional graphic novel about a group of young people who help a friend find his family and leave France.


One Is Not a Lonely Number by Evelyn Krieger. YM Books, an imprint of YALDAH Media, Inc. The one book on this list I have not yet read, but as soon as I do, I will report on it.

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer. Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. A Holocaust story based in France and involving the Resistance, children and a great deal of wit to effect the escape of a family of Jews.

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Teen Readers:

Hush by Eishes Chayil. Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing. An incredibly courageous account of incest within the Orthodox Community in Brooklyn, New York.

Once by Morris Glietzman. Henry Holt and Company. A somewhat fairy tale like story of a Jewish child’s experiences during WWII.

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman. Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc. A teenage girl and her family must make a new life in America following terrorist bombings and financial ruin in Argentina.

In addition to these exceptional titles, the Committee designated 27 books as “Notable.” You can find the Notable List by visiting the AJL Blog.

Congratulations, Mazel Tov and Yasher Koach to the Sydney Taylor Award Committee for accomplishing the difficult assignment of reading all the books sent to them, reviewing and rating each one and reaching consensus on the winners. This is no small task. Whether I agree or disagree with their choices will make wonderful material for future articles. However, today belongs to the Committee and all these wonderful authors and illustrators.  They should bask in the glory of being recognized for a job well done. Kol Ha Kovod/ well done and Kol Tuv/best wishes to everyone involved.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.


©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from a variety of sources including my local public library, my personal collection and publishers.
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.

And My Winners Are…

As the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee prepares to announce their 2010 award winners in the next few weeks, I thought I would post my hopes for the winning titles. As a former member of the Committee, I know how difficult a decision it is to choose one out of the many wonderful titles offered by publishers. This year is no exception.

I have spent the last couple  months locating, reading and reviewing most of the new Jewish titles published during this past year. My reviews for many of those books are or soon will be posted in the review section of my website. In trying to choose one “Best” book for each category, however, I looked to the books that stayed with me long after I had read them and to which I keep referring and recommending as the weeks have gone on. I have chosen these titles as my best for 2010.

Jewish Books for Younger Readers (Picture Books):

As usual, the picture book titles published during 2010 are, for the most part, about Jewish holidays (Hanukkah, Passover, Sukkot, etc.), bible stories or the Jewish immigrant experience. While there were a couple notable exceptions, my pick for the 2010 Best Jewish Book for Younger Readers is a book I cannot stop talking about and will be recommending to every parent I meet in the year ahead:

The Rooster Prince of Breslov by Ann Redisch Stampler. Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. ©2010, Clarion Books. Following her excellent, Shlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost and Something for Nothing, Ms. Stampler takes an 18th century, classic story from Reb Nachman of Breslov and gives it a contemporary twist that will open the eyes of many of today’s parents.

The young Prince of Breslov has had enough: “If he asked for a raisin, he was given a silver bowl of candied plums.” He has reached his tipping point, deciding to strip naked and become a rooster,  eating only the crumbs and corn people throw on the floor.

The king and queen, his parents, try discipline, doctors and magicians, to get him to change his behavior. Nothing works. Until a wise, old man comes to the palace, strips himself naked, gets on the prince’s level and actually LISTENS to and watches him. Slowly and gently, with the utmost patience, the wise old man  guides the prince back to humanity and transforms him into a mensch. The best part of the story is the wisdom and pride this outcome creates in the prince.

The illustrations are bright, brilliant and fantastic. Every page is a delight, capturing the story’s message in deeply powerful ways. I will read this to children of all ages, but mostly I will recommend it to adults as an excellent parenting manual. The Author’s Note at the back of the book is a must read.

Jewish Books for Older Readers (Middle Grades)

While I read a number of interesting books in this category, only one has stuck with me. I repeatedly recommend it to everyone I speak with about Jewish children’s books. My pick for the 2010 Best Jewish Book for Older Readers is:

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch. ©2010, Amulet Books. The tag line on the top of the book reads, “Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl.”  How can anyone resist reading this fantastic graphic novel? For someone unfamiliar with the Orthodox community, every part of the Orthodox Jewish culture is explained either within the text or in a footnote. For many readers this is just another part of the fantasy world that is set up in this intriguing and captivating story about Mirka, an 11-year-old Orthodox girl, who longs to fight dragons rather than learn how to knit, cook or sew. As if her stepmother’s chores, lessons and arguments aren’t enough, a magic pig that seems bent on ruining her life torments her. Her adventures begin upon finding herself locked in battle with the pig, saving the pig from some bullies, becoming indebted to a witch, then facing a troll to earn her reward. Mirka learns the importance of her stepmother’s lessons from knitting to arguing. This great read with fabulous artwork will thoroughly capture the minds of children in this age group.

Jewish Books for Teen Readers (High School)

Of the three categories, this was the most exciting. These YA authors managed to really “think outside of the box” when choosing their subjects, characters, plots and themes. New twists on Holocaust stories, a modern midrash of the Purim story, a friendship that shares 9/11 and the Argentinean terrorist bombings,  a fantasy novel involving the Rothschilds, an Israeli-American family facing PTSD, Anne Frank’s diary, an unflinching history about the lynching of Leo Frank, incest in the ultra-Orthodox community were some of the subjects I read about in these excellent works. Choosing one has been a wrenching experience, but I am going to stick with my previous statement and go with the book I have been recommending most often to others. My pick for the 2010 Best Jewish Book for Teen Readers is:

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman. ©2010, Scholastic Press. Sarah Littman is the author of Confessions of a Closet Catholic, winner of the 2006 Sydney Taylor Award. In this, her latest novel, she takes us to Argentina to meet Dani Bensimon and her family. The Bensimons are troubled: by the loss of Dani’s aunt (her father’s sister) in the terrorist bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, by her father’s depression as a result, by the recession in Argentina, by her father’s business closing which has further compounded his depression. When her mother takes a job, and is injured in a street riot on her way home from work, the decision is made that they must move to New York and start a new life.

Even though Dani’s family was well off in Argentina before the recession, and she is attending a rather well to do high school in her new city, she is now wearing hand-me-down clothes, living in a subsidized apartment and using lunch vouchers in the cafeteria. All on top of learning a new language and taking classes in that language, that she does not completely comprehend.  Dani quickly learns that she is not going to make friends easily.

However, she finds herself confronted with a situation where she must choose whether to stand up for another “different” student (a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome) against the school bully or turn and walk away. She decides to take the bully on.  When the Asperger’s student turns out to be the brother of one of the popular girls, her life suddenly begins to turn around. While Dani discovers the benefits of popularity, she also learns that being popular does not give you immunity from tragedy. Her new friend’s father was a victim in the 9/11 terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center.

Whether empathizing with Dani’s betrayal by her Argentinian boyfriend, her rapture at the first kiss from her new American boyfriend, or realizing that Dani and Jess share the tragedy of losing a loved one to a terrorist bomb, the reader is present in each moment. The writing style weaves so many emotions into the story – fear, sadness, joy, shame, trepidation, jealousy,  determination, indignation – it’s a rollercoaster ride reading each scene as if you are living it. Thankfully,  in the end, we are left with the feeling that through it all hope prevails.

So there you have it, my picks for the best of 2010. When the Sydney Taylor Awards Committee makes its announcement, rest assured that I will post their choices on my website for comparison. Please share your thoughts, however. I am eager to know what your picks are.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.


©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library or sent by the publisher as review copies.
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.

And the Winners Are…

The Association of Jewish Libraries has just announced the Sydney Taylor Book Award winners for 2010. They are:

The 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

for YOUNGER READERS

  • New Year at the Pier. April Halprin Wayland. Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch.Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009.

The 2010 Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners

for YOUNGER READERS

The 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

for OLDER READERS

The 2010 Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners

for OLDER READERS

The 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

for TEEN READERS

The 2010 Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners

for TEEN READERS

  • Lost. Jacqueline Davies. Marshall Cavendish, 2009.
  • Naomi’s Song. Selma Kritzer Silverberg. Jewish Publication Society, 2009.

The 2010 Sydney Taylor Notable Book for ALL AGES

____________________________________________________________

It has been my honor and my privilege to be a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee for the past four years. My term ends with this award year. I have mixed feelings about saying goodbye to an opportunity that has brought me back in touch with my passion for Jewish children’s literature and with the people who ignite the fires for that passion in others – Jewish librarians and educators.

On one hand, I am now free to read and review whichever books I want. This means, without naming names or titles, if a self-published work comes to my door and I know just by looking at it that there is good reasons why it is self-published, I no longer have to go through the effort of reading the book, giving it a score and writing a review. It means that I am able to search for those secular books with Jewish values content that I feel are so important to have in our libraries. It means that I may, on occasion be able to sit back and enjoy reading an adult book just for myself once or twice a year.

On the other hand, I am truly going to miss my interaction with my fellow committee members. You have probably heard the joke about 3 Jews, 4 opinions. Well, imagine a committee of six Jewish women – Professional Jewish women – librarians, booksellers, authors, educators, managers – Opinionated professional Jewish women. Now imagine that these six women have spent a year reading, scoring and reviewing approximately 150 Jewish children’s books. They must arrive at a consensus as to which book will win the top prize in each of three categories: Younger Readers, Older Readers and Teen Readers. Following that discussion, an agreement about Honor books takes place and then a discussion about Notable books.

Somehow, over a period of about 7-10 days, with a group that spans the continent and all its time zones, the Committee manages to pull this off every year, professionally, amicably, tactfully. Our significant others know that during this period we are not to be far from email access, and don’t even think about  talking to us as our minds our on the books, the books, the books, the Awarding of the Books. I wonder, do the Newbery and Caldecott Committees go through similar tzuris (Yiddish for troubles)? In the end, we all agree, we are happy and next year’s books are showing up on the doorstep. The cycle begins again.

Fortunately, during my time on the Committee, I have been blessed to serve under two remarkable Committee Chairs, Rachel Kamin and Kathe Pinchuck. It takes stamina, political savvy and emotional armor to sift through all the comments and steer this group in the a direction that will lead to consensus, both Rachel and Kathe managed the task perfectly.

So now the winners have been announced. In July, I will join my colleagues in Seattle for the AJL Convention, where we will discuss some of the books that did not make the list in our presentation “The Sydney Taylor Committee Tells All.” It is one of the high points of the Conference. Would you like to join us? Become a member of the Association of Jewish Libraries and meet us in Seattle.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.

PS  There were also twenty-two Notable Books selected by the Committee for 2010. All the Winners and the Notable titles can be found at www.sydneytaylorbookaward.blogspot.com.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by the publishers cited.
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.

|