2023 Sydney Taylor Book Award winners announced

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/30/2023


Martha Simpson


Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee

Association of Jewish Libraries


NEW ORLEANS — The 2023 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 during the ALA’s LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience, held January 27-30, in New Orleans.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award is named in memory of 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.

“This year’s winners emphasize how our Jewish communities connect us. They are worthy additions to the respected library of Sydney Taylor award books,” said Martha Simpson, chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

3 Sydney Taylor selections include:


“The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs,” by Chana Stiefel, illustrated by Susan Gal, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., is the winner of the Picture Book category. Thirty-five years after Nazis destroyed her beloved shtetl of Eishyshok, Poland, Yaffa Eliach recovered thousands of precious photographs preserved by relatives and survivors to recreate her community at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Susan Gal’s expressive illustrations bring to life this true story of love and remembrance.

“Aviva vs. the Dybbuk,” by Mari Lowe, published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido, is the winner of the Middle Grade category. Aviva and her widowed mother live next door to their synagogue in rooms above the mikvah, rumored to be haunted by a dybbuk only Aviva can see. This inside look at a close-knit Orthodox community explores changing friendships, antisemitic vandalism, and the many ways of dealing with grief.

“When the Angels Left the Old Country,” by Sacha Lamb, published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido, is the winner of the Young Adult category. Uriel, the angel, and Little Ash, the demon, have been Talmud study partners for centuries. When a shtetl girl goes missing, they journey to America to find her. Brimming with Yiddishkeit, this queer historical fantasy richly depicts the immigrant experience and tells an ageless tale of love, justice, and friendship.


Nine Sydney Taylor Honor Books were also recognized. For Picture Book, the Honor Books are:

“Big Dreams, Small Fish,” by Paula Cohen, illustrated by Paula Cohen, published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido; “The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda,” by Shoshana Nambi, illustrated by Moran Yogev, published by Kalaniot Books, an imprint of Endless Mountains Publishing Company; and “Sitting Shiva,” by Erin Silver, illustrated by Michelle Theodore, published by Orca Book Publishers.

For Middle Grade, the Honor Books are: “Honey and Me,” by Meira Drazin, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.; “Black Bird, Blue Road,” by Sofiya Pasternack, published by Versify, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; and “Ellen Outside the Lines,” by A. J. Sass, published by Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

For Young Adult, the Honor Books are: “My Fine Fellow: A Delicious Entanglement,” by Jennieke Cohen, published by HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; “Some Kind of Hate,” by Sarah Darer Littman, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.; and “Eight Nights of Flirting,” by Hannah Reynolds, published by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated nine Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2023. 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 be honored at the Association of Jewish Libraries Digital Conference: A World of Possibilities, from June 19-22, 2023. Gold and silver medalists also will participate in a blog tour February 6-10, 2023. For more information about the blog tour please visit www.jewishlibraries.org/blog.

Members of the 2023 Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee are Chair: Martha Simpson, Stratford Library, Stratford, Connecticut, Retired; Debra S. Gold, Cuyahoga County Library, Cleveland, Ohio, Retired; Carla Kozak, San Francisco Public Library, Retired; Aviva Rosenberg, Ridgefield Free Public Library, Ridgefield, New Jersey; Talya Sokoll, Noble and Greenough School, Dedham, Massachusetts; Arielle Vishny, Freelance Writer, New York, New York; and Kay Weisman, Booklist, Vancouver, British Columbia. 

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) is an international professional organization that 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.

 The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit www.ala.org.