The 2016 Sydney Taylor Book Awards Are Announced!

Lesléa Newman and Amy June Bates, author and illustrator of  Ketzel, the Cat who Composed, Aharon Appelfeld, Philippe Dumas and Jeffrey M. Green, author, illustrator and translator of  Adam and Thomas, and Laura Amy Schlitz, author of  The Hired Girl, are the 2016 winners of the 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.  The winners will receive their awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries Conference in Charleston, South Carolina this June.

Newman and Bates will receive the 2016 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Younger Reader category for Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed, published by Candlewick Press.  This delightful picture book tells the true story of musician Morris Moshe Cotel, whose cat helped him compose a one-minute composition that received an honorable mention in the Paris New Music Review competition.  The illustrations are heartwarming and add much charm to the story.  Appelfeld, Dumas and Green will receive the 2016 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Older Readers category for Adam and Thomas, published by Seven Stories Press.  This sweet story tells of two nine-year-old Jewish boys who survive the last winter of World War II, helping each other so that one grows physically stronger and braver and the other grows spiritually.  Laura Amy Schlitz will receive the 2016 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Teen category for The Hired Girl, published by Candlewick Press. This sensitive story tells how fourteen-year-old Catholic Joan Skraggs becomes a hired girl to a Jewish family where she learns and grows in unexpected ways.

Five Sydney Taylor Honor Books were named for 2016.  For Younger Readers, the Honor Books are Everybody Says Shalom written by Leslie Kimmelman and illustrated by Talitha Shipman, published by Random House, and Shanghai Sukkah written by Heidi Smith Hyde and illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong, published by Kar-Ben Publishing.  Hereville:  How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch, published by Amulet Books, is the Honor book in the Older Reader category.  For Teen Readers, the Honor books are Serendipity’s Footsteps by Suzanne Nelson, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, and Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer, published by Orca Book Publishers.

Winners and Honor recipients will be participating in a Blog Tour from February 7-12, 2016. For more information about the blog please visit

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated twelve Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2016.  More information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award can be found at

Click here for a pdf of 2016 winners, honor books, and notable books.
For more information, contact:
Diane Rauchwerger, Chair
Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
Association of Jewish Libraries
(408) 245-7641


The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers:

Ketzel, the Cat who Composed by Lesléa Newman with illustrations by Amy June Bates
(Candlewick Press)

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers:

Adam & Thomas by Aharon Appelfeld, translated by Jeffrey M. Green
with illustrations by Philippe Dumas
(Seven Stories Press)

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers:

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
(Candlewick Press)

Sydney Taylor Honor Books for Younger Readers:

Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman with illustrations by Talitha Shipman
(Random House)

Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde with illustrations by Jing Jing Tsong
(Kar-Ben Publishing)

Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Older Readers:

Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch
(Amulet Books)

Sydney Taylor Honor Books for Teen Readers:

Serendipity’s Footsteps by Suzanne Nelson
(Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House)

Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer
(Orca Book Publishers)

Notable Books for Younger Readers:

Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles by David A. Adler, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
(Apples & Honey Press, an imprint of Behrman House & Gefen Publishing House)

The Parakeet Named Dreidel by Isaac Bashevis Singer illustrated by Suzanne Raphael Berkson
(Farrar Straus Giroux)

Sadie and Ori and the Blue Blanket by Jamie Korngold illustrated by Julie Fortenberry
(Kar-Ben Publishers)

Notable Books for Older Readers:

The Girl in the Torch by Robert Sharenow
(Balzer + Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers)

Mr. Doctor: Janusz Korczak and the Orphans of the Warsaw Ghetto
by Irene Cohen-Janca and illustrated by Maurizio A. C. Quarello
(Annick Press)

The Safest Lie by Angela Cerrito
(Holiday House)

Watch Out for Flying Kids!: How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community by Cynthia Levinson

The Wren and the Sparrow, by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg
(Kar-Ben Publishers)

Notable Books for Teens:

Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in WWII Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson
(Scholastic Press)

Deep Sea by Annika Thor
(Delacorte Press)

Imagining Katherine by Carol Solomon
(Tova Press)

Last Night at the Circle Cinema by Emily Franklin
(Carolrhoda Lab)