2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners

Cover for 2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners

The press release

Winners of the annual Sydney Taylor Book Award were announced by the Association of Jewish Libraries today. 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.

2018 is the 50th Anniversary of the Sydney Taylor Awards. The first winner was The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig in 1968, published by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company.


The Language of Angels: A Story About the Reinvention of Hebrew by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Karla Gudeon, published by Charlesbridge, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Younger Readers category. This beautiful picture book tells the story of how Hebrew became an everyday language in Israel, after being out of use for two thousand years. The folk art illustrations are an illuminating match.

Refugee by Alan Gratz, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Older Readers category. The journeys of three different young refugees from Nazi Germany, 1990s Cuba and present-day Syria come together to form an emotional and timely narrative about the refugee experience.

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, translated by Lilit Thwaites, published by Godwin Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, a division of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Teen Readers category. This powerful story of Dita Kraus and her protection of a handful of books in the Auschwitz concentration camp shows the importance of hope in the darkest of times.

Harold Grinspoon and PJ Library won the Sydney Taylor Body of Work Award. PJ Library, a project of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, is a family engagement program that sends free books celebrating Jewish values and culture to families with children 6 months through 8 years old. This program has revolutionized the field of Jewish children’s literature by providing dramatically improved access to Jewish books for families. It has also significantly increased the publication of children’s books with Jewish content. The Body of Work Award has been given twelve times in the 50-year history of the Sydney Taylor Awards. The last recipient was author Eric Kimmel in 2004.


Eight Sydney Taylor Honor Books were also recognized.

For Younger Readers, the Honor Books are: Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam adapted by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Chiara Fedele, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group and Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

For Older Readers, the Honor Books are: Viva, Rose! by Susan Krawitz, published by Holiday House, which was also the recipient of the 2015 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award; This Is Just a Test by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic; and The Six-Day Hero by Tammar Stein, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

For Teen Readers, the Honor Books are: To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen’s Account of a War Criminal Trial by Kathy Kacer with Jordana Lebowitz, published by Second Story Press; Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin, translated by Rosie Hedger, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic; and The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke, published by Albert Whitman & Company.

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated twelve Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2018. More information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award and a complete listing of the award winners and notables can be found at http://www.sydneytaylorbookawards.org

Winning authors and illustrators will receive their awards at the Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries, to be held in Boston, MA from June 18-20, 2018. Gold and silver medalists will also participate in a blog tour February 4-8, 2018. For more information about the blog tour please visit www.jewishlibraries.org/blog.

The Language of Angels and Refugee were also named winners of the 67th Annual National Jewish Book Awards, which were announced today as well. A full list of all the winners can be found on the Jewish Book Council’s website https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/awards/national-jewish-book-award.html

Members of the 2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award committee are: Chair Susan Kusel, Temple Rodef Shalom Library, Falls Church, VA; Rena Citrin, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago, IL; Elissa Gershowitz, Horn Book Magazine, Boston, MA; Rebecca Levitan, Baltimore County Public Library, Pikesville Branch, Baltimore, MD; Heather Lenson, Joseph & Florence Mandel Jewish Day School, Beachwood, OH; Marjorie Shuster, Congregation Emanuel of the City of New York, New York, NY; and Rivka Yerushalmi, Silver Spring, MD.


Notable Books for Younger Readers

Yom Kippur Shortstop by David A. Adler, illustrated by Andre Ceolin
published by Apples & Honey Press, an imprint of Behrman House

Under the Sabbath Lamp by Michael Herman, illustrated by Alida Massari
published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group

Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Jim Starr
published by Apples & Honey Press, an imprint of Behrman House

The Knish War on Rivington Street by Joanne Oppenheim, illustrated by Jon Davis
published by Albert Whitman & Company

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Stacy Innerst, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, a division of Abrams

Notable Books for Older Readers

Hedy’s Journey: The True Story of a Hungarian Girl Fleeing the Holocaust
by Michelle Bisson, illustrated by El primo Ramón
published by Capstone Press, a Capstone imprint

The Children of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II:
Young Readers Edition by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen and adapted by Emil Sher
published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a division of Hachette Book Group

Wordwings by Sydelle Pearl, published by Guernica Editions

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero
published by Delacorte Press, a division of Random House Children’s Books

Notable Books for Teen Readers

Man’s Search for Meaning: Young Reader Edition by Viktor E. Frankl, published by Beacon Press

Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin
published by Katherine Tegen Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers

Stolen Secrets by L.B. Schulman, published by Boyds Mills Press, a division of Highlights

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