2014 Sydney Taylor Book Awards Announced by AJL
Laurel Snyder, Catia Chien, Patricia Polacco, and Neal Bascomb Named Gold Winners
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.
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 Las Vegas, Nevada this June.
Snyder and 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’s dream-like illustrations, we are somehow transported to the rusty red banks of the Nile, witnessing each plague. This book is a marvel.”
The gold medal in the Older Readers category will be presented to Patricia Polacco for The Blessing Cup, a 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 a treasured family heirloom. The miraculous journey from the shtetl to America of the remaining teacup from a china tea set, deliberately left behind when her Jewish ancestors were forced to leave Czarist Russia, 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.
Neal 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 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.”
Six Sydney Taylor Honor Books were named for 2014:
- Stones for Grandpa by Renee Londoner with illustrations by Martha Avilés
- Rifka Takes a Bow by Betty Rosenberg Perlov with illustrations by Cosei Kawa (both by Kar-Ben, a division of Lerner Publishing Group)
- 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)
- 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).
Gold and silver medalists will be participating in a blog tour beginning February 16, 2014. For more information about the blog tour please visit www.jewishlibraries.org/blog.
In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated thirteen Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2014. More information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award can be found at www.SydneyTaylorBookAward.org.