Association of Jewish Libraries selects 2012 winners PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 03 February 2012 18:15
Sydney Tayor Book Awards are coveted honors


LOS ANGELES – The Association of Jewish Libraries announced its picks for the best Jewish books for children and teens that were published in 2011. According to a release from the organization,  “Chanukah Lights” by author Michael J. Rosen and artist Robert Sabuda, “Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein” by Susan Goldman Rubin, and “The Berlin Boxing Club” by Robert Sharenow are the 2012 winners of the prestigious 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. Winners will receive awards at the organization’s convention in Pasadena, Calif. this June.

Younger readers

“Chanukah Lights” (Candlewick Press) celebrates Jewish history by pairing poetic prose with intricate, paper-cut pop-up art.

Barbara Bietz, chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, said in the statement,  “From the shtetl to skyscrapers, the white pop-up scenes against a background of deep rainbow colors illuminate Jewish life. Together, children and adults will marvel at the stunning scenes that magically unfold with each turn of the page.”

Older readers

The gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Older Readers Category will be presented to Goldman Rubin for “Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein” (Charlesbridge Publishing). This biography shares the inspiring story of the young musician and his commitment to succeed in spite of his family’s opposition. Through hard work, determination and a spirit that won’t quit, Bernstein realizes his dream as he takes the stage as a conductor at Carnegie Hall. Photos help bring Bernstein’s journey to life.

Committee member Barbara Krasner said that the book “shows the struggle between the old and new worlds  – the immigrant generation and the American generation. with tension that today’s kids can relate to.”

In 2000, Goldman Rubin received the Sydney Taylor Honor Award for “Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis,” and “The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin” was a 2006 Sydney Taylor Honor Book.

Teen readers

Sharenow will receive the 2012 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Teen Readers Category for “The Berlin Boxing Club” (HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishing).

This historical novel reveals the history of Nazi Germany through the eyes of Karl Stern, a typical 14-year-old German boy. Karl never gave much thought to being Jewish and had little connection with any religious life. When classmates bully Karl, he is forced to face the dangers in his own community. Given the opportunity to learn boxing from German champion Max Schmeling, Karl jumps at the chance. He grows strong and learns to defend himself. But as the Nazis gain power and his family is in peril, Karl questions whom he can trust.

Aimee Lurie, incoming chair of the Award Committee noted: “The superb writing, meticulous research, and dramatic look into the world of boxing pack a punch that will leave teens mesmerized! Readers will be captivated and inspired by Karl’s transformation from being the victim of anti-Semitic violence to a strong, confident young man who is able to protect his family.”

Eight other books were named Sidney Taylor Honor Books.

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0 #1 Janice Dexter-Ganek 2013-12-07 23:34
I read The Berlin Boxing Club with my daughter, and it is a superb book! I wanted her to understand how the Nazis slowly deprived Jews of their rights leading up to the Holocaust. However, we gained a great deal more from this book including the dynamics and complexities of relationships between family and friends. I also took some time to learn about the real Max Schmeling's story and share that with my daughter as well. I am pleased that Mr. Sharenow won the gold medal in the teen category.

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