For immediate release | January 27, 2020

2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award winners announced

PHILADELPHIA – The 2020 winners of the Sydney Taylor Book Award, administered by the Association of Jewish Libraries, an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), were announced today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award is named in memory of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. The award recognizes titles for children and teens that exemplify high literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.

Committee chair Rebecca Levitan said, “I’m so grateful to the committee this year for all their hard work. Their dedication to this award brought about winners that we are extremely proud to call Sydney Taylor Award books.”

2020 Sydney Taylor selections include:


“The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come,” by Sue Macy, illustrated by Stacy Innerst and published by Paula Wiseman Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is the winner of the Picture Book category. “The Book Rescuer” celebrates the power of an individual to preserve history and culture, while also exploring timely themes of identity and immigration. In a folksy voice, this biography tells the story of Yiddish Book Center founder Aaron Lansky’s commitment to rescuing Yiddish language books and ensuring that despite all odds, Yiddish language and culture will stay alive for future generations.

“White Bird: A Wonder Story,” by R. J. Palacio and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Penguin Random House, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Middle Grade category. This beautifully illustrated graphic novel connects the Holocaust to familiar contemporary characters, as Julian from the Wonder series learns his grandmother’s powerful story of rescue in Vichy-occupied France.

“Someday We Will Fly,” by Rachel DeWoskin and published by Viking Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Young Adult category. In this lushly written historical novel, Lillia and her father and sister flee Warsaw during the Holocaust and take refuge in Shanghai. There, Lillia’s need to support her family, her relationships with others, and her awareness of her privilege even as a refugee all contribute to her growth.


Six Sydney Taylor Honor Books were also recognized.

For Picture Book, the Honor Books are “Gittel’s Journey,” by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, and “The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music,” by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer and published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

For Middle Grade, the Honor Books are “Anya and the Dragon,” by Sofiya Pasternack and published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and “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 and published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

For Young Adult, the Honor Books are “Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life and Work,” by Victoria Ortiz and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and “Sick Kids in Love,” by Hannah Moskowitz and published by Entangled Teen, an imprint of Entangled Publishing LLC.

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated eight Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2020. More information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award and a complete listing of the award winners and notables can be found at 

Winning authors and illustrators will receive their awards at the Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries, to be held in Evanston, IL, from June 29 to July 1, 2020. Gold and silver medalists also will participate in a blog tour from February 9 to 13, 2020. For more information about the blog tour, please visit  

Members of the 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award committee are Chair Rebecca Levitan, Baltimore County Public Library; Rena Citrin, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago; Shoshana Flax, The Horn Book, Inc., Boston; Marjorie Ingall, freelance writer, New York; Sylvie Shaffer, Capitol Hill Day School, Washington, D.C.; Marjorie Shuster, Congregation Emanuel, New York; and Rivka Yerushalmi, Jewish Women International Libraries, Rockville, Md.

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. The Association fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience, and Israel. AJL is an affiliate of the American Library Association.


Rebecca Levitan

Association of Jewish Libraries

Affiliate of the American Library Association