2021 Sydney Taylor Book Award winners announced

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/25/2021


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations



CHICAGO – The 2021 winners of the Sydney Taylor Book Award, administered by the Association of Jewish Libraries, an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), were announced at 8 a.m. Central today at ALA Midwinter Virtual, held Jan. 22 - 26.

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

“I can’t fully express how delighted I am with the committee’s selections this year.  I am incredibly appreciative of all their hard work to determine a list of books that we are thrilled to call Sydney Taylor books,” said Rebecca Levitan, chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

2021 Sydney Taylor selections include:


“Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail,” by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal, published by Charlesbridge, is the winner of the Picture Book category. This warmly illustrated, poetic book parallels the experiences of a young boy at a Passover seder and a small white kitten outdoors. When the boy opens the door to welcome the prophet Elijah, he finds a furry friend instead. Simple text, diverse characters, and a timeless feel make this a story to be treasured. 

“Turtle Boy,” by M. Evan Wolkenstien, published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Middle Grade category. Will’s bar mitzvah service project helps him face challenges in his own life in this engaging story by a debut author. Bullied at school and a loner, turtle-loving Will completes a bucket list of milestone activities for a terminally ill boy and gains the strength to face his own upcoming surgery.

“Dancing at the Pity Party,” written and illustrated by Tyler Feder, published by Dial Books,  an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Young Adult category. This debut memoir in graphic form is a funny, sad, confidently illustrated meditation on grief. It’s both a tribute to Tyler’s wonderful mom, who died of breast cancer at the age of 47, and a guide to Jewish mourning practices. A singular achievement. 


Six Sydney Taylor Honor Books were also recognized.

For Picture Book, the Honor Books are: “I am the Tree of Life: My Jewish Yoga Book,” by Mychal Copeland, illustrated by André Ceolin, published by Apples and Honey Press, an imprint of Behrman House. “Miriam at the River,” by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Khoa Le, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

For Middle Grade, the Honor Books are: “No Vacancy,” by Tziporah Cohen, published by Groundwood Books. “Anya and The Nightingale,” by Sofiya Pasternak, published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “The Blackbird Girls,” by Anne Blankman, published by Viking Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House LLC.

For Young Adult, the Honor Book is “They Went Left,” by Monica Hesse, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated 11 Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2021. More information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award and a complete listing of the award winners and notables can be found at www.sydneytaylorbookawards.org

Winning authors and illustrators will receive their awards at the Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries, to be held in virtually, from June 27 to July 1, 2021. Gold and silver medalists also will participate in a blog tour February 8-12, 2021. For more information about the blog tour please visit www.jewishlibraries.org/blog.

A full list of all the winners is available on the Association of Jewish Libraries’ website at sydneytaylorbookawards.org 

Members of the 2021 Sydney Taylor Book Award committee are Chair Rebecca Levitan, 

Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, Maryland; Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Stratford, Connecticut; Judy Ehrenstein, Montgomery County Public Libraries, Bethesda, Maryland; Toby Harris, Temple Beth Am, Seattle, Washington; Rena Citrin, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School Chicago, Illinois; Marjorie Ingall, freelance writer, New York, New York; and Aviva Rosenberg, Ridgefield Free Public Library, Ridgefield, New Jersey. 

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.