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2016 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour

The Sydney Taylor Book Award will be celebrating and showcasing its 2016 gold and silver medalists with a Blog Tour, February 8-12, 2016! Interviews with winning authors and illustrators will appear on a wide variety of Jewish and kidlit blogs. For those of you who have not yet experienced a Blog Tour, it’s basically a virtual book tour. Instead of going to a library or bookstore to see an author or illustrator speak, you go to a website on or after the advertised date to read an author’s or illustrator’s interview.

Below is the schedule for the 2016 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. Please follow the links to visit the hosting blogs on or after their tour dates, and be sure to leave them plenty of comments!


Ketzel the Cat by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Ann Koffsky's Blog

Serendipity's Footsteps by Suzanne Nelson
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Bildungsroman


Adam & Thomas by Aharon Appelfeld, translated by Jeffrey M. Green, illustrated by Philippe Dumas
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Jewish Books for Kids with Barbara Bietz

Hereville by Barry Deutsch
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Jewish Comics


The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At The Prosen People

Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Kristi's Book Nook


Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Talitha Shipman
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb

Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Randomly Reading


Blog Tour Wrap-Up with all authors and illustrators
At The Whole Megillah

2016 Sydney Taylor Book Awards Announced

Lesléa Newman and Amy June Bates, author and illustrator of Ketzel, the Cat who Composed, Aharon Appelfeld, Philippe Dumas and Jeffrey M. Green, author, illustrator and translator of Adam and Thomas, and Laura Amy Schlitz, author of The Hired Girl, are the 2016 winners of the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.  The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series.  The winners will receive their awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries Conference in Charleston, South Carolina this June.

Newman and Bates will receive the 2016 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Younger Reader category for Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed, published by Candlewick Press.  This delightful picture book tells the true story of musician Morris Moshe Cotel, whose cat helped him compose a one-minute composition that received an honorable mention in the Paris New Music Review competition.  The illustrations are heartwarming and add much charm to the story.  Appelfeld, Dumas and Green will receive the 2016 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Older Readers category for Adam and Thomas, published by Seven Stories Press.  This sweet story tells of two nine-year-old Jewish boys who survive the last winter of World War II, helping each other so that one grows physically stronger and braver and the other grows spiritually.  Laura Amy Schlitz will receive the 2016 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Teen category for The Hired Girl, published by Candlewick Press. This sensitive story tells how fourteen-year-old Catholic Joan Skraggs becomes a hired girl to a Jewish family where she learns and grows in unexpected ways.

Five Sydney Taylor Honor Books were named for 2016.  For Younger Readers, the Honor Books are Everybody Says Shalom written by Leslie Kimmelman and illustrated by Talitha Shipman, published by Random House, and Shanghai Sukkah written by Heidi Smith Hyde and illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong, published by Kar-Ben Publishing.  Hereville:  How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch, published by Amulet Books, is the Honor book in the Older Reader category.  For Teen Readers, the Honor books are Serendipity’s Footsteps by Suzanne Nelson, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, and Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer, published by Orca Book Publishers.

Winners and Honor recipients will be participating in a blog tour from February 9-12, 2016.  For more information about the blog please visit www.jewishlibraries.org/blog.

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated twelve Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2016.  More information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award can be found at www.SydneyTaylorBookAward.org.

Click here for the full list of 2016 winners, honor books, and notable books.

For more information, contact:
Diane Rauchwerger, Chair
Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
Association of Jewish Libraries
(408) 245-7641


Scholarship for AJL Conference Attendance

Applications are now being accepted for the Groner-Wikler scholarship for AJL conference attendance.  The application deadline in March 7, 2016.     The Groner-­Wikler Scholarship of $1500 for conference attendance is given annually to a member of AJL who demonstrates dedication to Jewish children’s literature or library services.

Download the application form here.

A member of AJL, this individual will have made a significant contribution in one or more of the areas listed below. Extra consideration is given to applicants who are considered promising new movers and shakers in the field of Jewish children’s literature and services.

-  Active involvement in the Judaic library profession or related fields promoting Jewish children’s literacy

-  Strong advocacy for library/literacy services to children and youth

-  Positive role model to colleagues and the wider community

-  Innovative approaches to Jewish children’s literature or library services

Candidates may self-­nominate, or be nominated by others. The nominator does not have to be a member of AJL, but the nominee must be a current AJL member. The winner will be selected by a committee made up of the AJL SSC President and Vice­President, the children’s book editor(s) of AJL Reviews, and the previous year’s winner of this award.

The recipient will be notified well before the registration deadline for the Association of Jewish Libraries annual conference. The presentation of the award will take place during the AJL conference.

Note: If a suitable candidate is not found, the scholarship will not be awarded in that year.

Nominator or applicant (may self-­nominate) should fill out the application form and email it with any supporting materials to AJL SSC President Aimee Lurie at aimeelurie@mac.com by March 7, 2016. 

Please email me with questions.

Thank you.


Aimee Lurie

SSC President

2016 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Announced

Honey and Me by Meira Drazin is the winner of the 2016 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries. The Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award is given each year to an unpublished fiction manuscript for readers aged 8 to 13 that appeals to readers of all backgrounds while depicting authentic aspects of Jewish life.

Honey and Me chronicles a year in the friendship of Honey Wine and Milla Bloom, two Modern Orthodox sixth graders. The girls are very different in personality and family life but balance each other in their friendship. The year is fraught with change, family crises, and personal growth, including Honey’s becoming a bat mitzvah in a women’s minyan, the death of a beloved teacher, and Milla’s complicated relationship with her mother.

While there were several outstanding entries in this year’s competition, the judges were taken by the energy of the characters, the natural way Judaism was woven into the story, and the contemporary flavor to the manuscript. Said one of the judges, “ This is a modern American story set within an observant Jewish milieu.” Another commented that “ the variations in lifestyle between families of Orthodox Jews living in a modern and positive world are rarely depicted in such a non-judgmental way.”

Ms Drazin was inspired by Sydney Taylor, the author of the beloved All-of-A-Kind Family series, which, she feels, shows the importance of the smaller dramas in everyday life. Honey and Me also melds the everyday events in the lives of Honey and Milla with their Jewish identities. Says Drazin, “It’s a huge honor and validation for any writer to be acknowledged for his or her work, not to mention tremendously exciting. But, as they say in the Talmud, ‘kai v’chomer’ -- how much more so to be awarded the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award, an honor literally named for the very inspiration for my project!”Ms. Drazin is a transplant  from Toronto and New York to London, England, where she lives with her husband and four children. A graduate of Barnard College with an MA in English and Comparative Literature, she has been a senior editor for New York Family and is currently a freelance magazine writer. She has been invited to accept her award at the 51st Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference in Charleston, SC in June 2016.

Manuscripts are now being accepted for the 2017 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award here.

There is an opening on the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Committee, click here for details.

New AJL Publication Released

Creating a Collection


The AJL Publications Committee is pleased to announce the publication of the 6th edition of Creating a Collection by Marlene Schiffman and Leslie Monchar.

Creating a Collection is an invaluable resource for new Judaic libraries. In this revised edition of AJL's annotated non-fiction collection development guide, our editors have added many recent titles and expanded the list of categories. Existing libraries in synagogues, centers, schools and academic institutions will also benefit from reviewing the list to ensure that their collections are comprehensive and up-to-date.

The book can be ordered directly from Amazon at https://www.createspace.com/5781349?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026.

Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year,
Joyce Levine
AJL Publications Chair


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