An illustration for ‘All-of-a-Kind Family.’(Helen John, from All-of-a-Kind Family, Random House)
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The 2015 Sydney Taylor Award Winners

Annual literary prize honors the best Jewish children’s books

Marjorie Ingall
January 20, 2015
An illustration for 'All-of-a-Kind Family.'(Helen John, from All-of-a-Kind Family, Random House)

The Assocation of Jewish Libraries has announced the winners of the Sydney Taylor Awards for the best Jewish children’s books of the year. All three selections also made Tablet’s Best Jewish Children’s Books of 2014 list.

The gold medal in the Younger Reader category went to Jim Aylsworth and Barbara McClintock, author and illustrator of My Grandfather’s Coat. The gold medal in the Older Reader category went to LoïcDauvillier, Marc Lizano, and Greg Salsedo, authors and illustrators of Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, (ably translated into English by Alexis Seigel). And the gold medal in the Teen Reader category went to Donna Jo Napoli, author of Storm.

According to the AJL, “The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.” It’s named, of course, for the brilliant Sydney Taylor, author of the All-of-a-Kind Family series, the last four of which have been newly reissued by Lizzie Skurnick Books.

My Grandfather’s Coat, published by Scholastic, retells the same wonders-of-recycling-and-optimism folksong as Simms Taback’s enduring I Had a Little Overcoat, this time giving it an immigrant-tale spin. McClintock’s super-detailed, precise yet joyful illustrations “add much charm to the story.” Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, published by First Second, is a stunning graphic novel in which a French grandmother tells her granddaughter how she survived the Holocaust with the help of righteous gentiles. Storm, a Paula Wiseman Book published by Simon and Schuster, retells the story of Noah from the perspective of a teenage stowaway who bonds with some apes, saves the sanity of some other cooped-up animals, spies on Noah’s messed-up family, and (spoiler alert!) finds love with another stowaway.

Six Honor Books were also named: Goldie Takes a Stand by Barbara Krasner, illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley; and Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain, written by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard (which was also on Tablet’s list) were selected as Honor Books for Younger Readers. Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart and Whispering Town (the latter also on Tablet’s list) by Jennifer Elvgren, illustrated by Fabio Santomauro, were the Honor Books in the Older Readers category. And Isabel’s War by Lila Perl and Like No Other by Una LaMarche were picked as Honor Books for Teen Readers.

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated 16 Notable Books of Jewish content for 2015. Congrats to all! Fellow yehudim, buy the books!

Marjorie Ingall is a former columnist for Tablet, the author of Mamaleh Knows Best, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review.