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Sydney Taylor Book Awards 2018 - 2020

Presented annually by the Association of Jewish Libraries to authors of outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. Gold medals are presented in three categories: Younger Readers, Older Readers, and Teen Readers. Honor Books are awarded silver medals, and Notable Books are named in each category.

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      White Bird: A Wonder Story

      by R.J. Palacio

      Mar 2020

      Realistic Fiction Middle Plus

      2020 Winner, Middle Grade
      In R. J. Palacio’s bestselling collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian’s grandmother, Grandmère. Here, Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with Grandmère’s heartrending story: how she, a young Jewish girl, was hidden by a family in a Nazi-occupied French village during World War II; how the boy she and her classmates once shunned became her savior and best friend.

      Sara’s harrowing experience movingly demonstrates the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives. As Grandmère tells Julian, “It always takes courage to be kind, but in those days, such kindness could cost you everything.” With poignant symbolism and gorgeous artwork that brings Sara’s story out of the past and cements it firmly in this moment in history, White Bird is sure to captivate anyone who was moved by the book Wonder or the blockbuster movie adaptation and its message.

      Afterword. Author’s note. “A Note About the Dedication.” Glossary. Reading list. Resources. Bibliography. Full-color digital illustrations. Black-and-white photographs.

      Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler's Germany

      by Andrew Maraniss

      Feb 2020

      Nonfiction High Plus

      2020 Honoree, Middle Grade
      On a scorching hot day in July 1936, thousands of people cheered as the U.S. Olympic teams boarded the S.S. Manhattan, bound for Berlin. Among the athletes were the 14 players representing the first-ever U.S. Olympic basketball team. As thousands of supporters waved American flags on the docks, it was easy to miss the one courageous man holding a BOYCOTT NAZI GERMANY sign. But it was too late for a boycott now; the ship had already left the harbor.

      1936 was a turbulent time in world history. Adolf Hitler had gained power in Germany three years earlier. Jewish people and political opponents of the Nazis were the targets of vicious mistreatment, yet were unaware of the horrors that awaited them in the coming years. But the Olympians on board the S.S. Manhattan and other international visitors wouldn’t see any signs of trouble in Berlin. Streets were swept, storefronts were painted, and every German citizen greeted them with a smile. Like a movie set, it was all just a facade, meant to distract from the terrible things happening behind the scenes.

      This is the incredible true story of basketball, from its invention by James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891, to the sport’s Olympic debut in Berlin and the eclectic mix of people, events, and propaganda on both sides of the Atlantic that made it all possible.

      Afterword. “All-Time Olympic Basketball Results.” 1936 Team USA roster. Time line of 1936 Berlin Olympics. Bibliography. Index. Black-and-white photographs and reproductions.

      Sick Kids in Love

      by Hannah Moskowitz

      Feb 2020

      City High School

      2020 Honoree, Young Adult
      Isabel has one rule: no dating. All the women in her family are heartbreakers, and she’s destined to become one, too, if she’s not careful. But when she goes to the hospital for her RA infusion, she meets a gorgeous, foul-mouthed boy who has her rethinking the no-dating rule and ready to risk everything.

      Aleksander is chronically ill, too, and there’s a softer side underneath all his jokes. Isabel finds herself unraveling the secrets of a real person, rather than crowdsourcing her decisions through her online column Sick Girl Wants to Know. They fall for each other hard and fast, but Isabel has known all along they were headed for disaster. When a devastating family secret threatens their love, can she find the strength to claim a brave, new life with Aleksander, or will she retreat to the safety she’s always depended on and break his heart?

      Readers’ group guide.

      The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come

      by Sue Macy

      Nov 2019

      Nonfiction Elementary Plus

      2020 Winner, Picture Book
      Over the last forty years, Aaron Lansky has jumped into dumpsters, rummaged around musty basements, and crawled through cramped attics. He did all of this in pursuit of a particular kind of treasure, and he’s found plenty. Lansky’s treasure was any book written Yiddish, the language of generations of European Jews. When he started looking for Yiddish books, experts estimated there might be about 70,000 still in existence. Since then, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient has collected close to 1.5 million books, and he’s finding more every day.

      Told in a folkloric voice reminiscent of Patricia Polacco, this story celebrates the power of an individual to preserve history and culture, while exploring timely themes of identity and immigration.

      Author’s note. Illustrator’s note. Yiddish glossary. Suggestions for further information. Source notes. Full-color illustrations rendered in acrylic and gouache, with fabric textures added digitally.

      Someday We Will Fly

      by Rachel DeWoskin

      Apr 2019

      History High

      2020 Winner, Young Adult
      1940: Lilia is fifteen when her mother, Alenka, disappears, and she, her father, and sister flee Warsaw for Shanghai, one of the few places that will accept Jews without visas. They struggle to make a life—and wonder if Alenka will find them, if she’s still alive.
      Author’s note. Sources.

      All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah

      by Emily Jenkins

      Oct 2018

      Primary Plus

      Winner, 2019 Younger Readers
      Acclaimed author Emily Jenkins (A Greyhound, a Groundhog) and Caldecott Award-winning artist Paul O. Zelinsky (Rapunzel) bring the beloved All-of-a-Kind Family to life in a new format. Fans, along with those just meeting the five girls ("all of a kind," as their parents say), will join them back in 1912, on the Lower East Side of NYC, and watch as preparations for Hanukkah are made. When Gertie, the youngest, is not allowed to help prepare latkes, she throws a tantrum. Banished to the girls' bedroom, she can still hear the sounds and smell the smells of a family getting ready to celebrate. But then Papa comes home and she is allowed out--and given the best job of all: lighting the first candle on the menorah.
      Yiddish glossary. Author’s note. Illustrator’s note. List of Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family books. Sources. Full-color illustrations rendered digitally.

      What the Night Sings

      by Vesper Stamper

      Jul 2018

      History High

      Winner, 2019 Teen Readers
      Debut author/illustrator Vesper Stamper presentsa lushly illustrated novel about a teen Holocaust survivor, who must come to terms with who she is and how to rebuild her life.

      Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R. B. G. vs. Inequality

      by Jonah Winter

      Dec 2017

      Nonfiction Elementary Plus

      Notable Books for Younger Readers
      Structured as a court case in which the reader is presented with evidence of the injustice that Ginsburg faced, this is the true story of how one of America's most "notorious" women bravely persevered to become the remarkable symbol of justice she is today. Glossary. Author's note. Full-color illustrations done with gouache, ink, and Photoshop.

      The Six-Day Hero

      by Tammar Stein

      Aug 2017

      Upper Elementary & Junior High Plus

      Honor, Older Readers
      Motti knows his older brother is a hero—but through the six days of the war that will decide Israel's fate, he discovers other heroes in surprising places. Author's note.
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