Winners of the annual Sydney Taylor Book Award have been announced by the Association of Jewish Libraries. 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.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy with illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley, published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, won the Younger Readers category. This biography of the Supreme Court justice teaches children that dissent does not make a person disagreeable, and can even help change the world. The grab-your-attention illustrations help explain the text.
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly, published by Dutton Children’s Books/Penguin Random House, won the Older Readers category. Part fantasy and part adventure, this is the tale of strangers who become friends while on a quest to save thousands of volumes of Talmud. The beautiful illuminations reflect the medieval flavor of the book.
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit, published by Alfred A. Knopf/Penguin Random House, won the Teen Readers category. Anna is left alone in 1939 Cracow when the Nazis take her father away. She meets the mysterious Swallow Man who is able to speak “bird,” and travels with him in the forests of Poland, where they spend four years hiding and eluding capture. This is a haunting story that may be allegory or folktale or perhaps both.
Four Sydney Taylor Honor Books were also recognized. For Younger Readers, the Honor Books are Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy by Richard Michelson with illustrations by Edel Rodriguez, published by Alfred A. Knopf/Penguin Random House, and A Hat For Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love written by Michelle Edwards with illustrations by G. Brian Karas, published by Schwartz and Wade Books/Penguin Random House.
Dreidels on the Brain written by Joel Ben Izzy and published by Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House, and A Poem For Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney with illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, published by Viking Children’s Books/Penguin Random House, are the Honor books in the Older Readers Category.
In addition to the medal winners, the award committee designated ten Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2017.