Immigrant tale wins top Jewish children’s book honor

Penny Schwartz

(JTA) — A picture book based on the classic “All-of-a-Kind Family” books by Sydney Taylor won an award named in her memory.

“All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah” (Schwartz & Wade), about a turn-of-the-century immigrant Jewish family on New York’s Lower East Side, won a Sydney Taylor 2019 book award gold medal for younger readers from the Association of Jewish Libraries. The awards were announced Monday in Seattle.

The AJL cited the poetic language of author Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky’s exuberant illustrations.

“Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster” by Jonathan Auxier (Amulet Books/Abrams), took the award for older readers. The historical fantasy, set in Victorian London, tells the story of a girl chimney sweep and a golem who saves her life.

“What the Night Sings,” by Vesper Stamper (Knopf/Random House), won the top prize for teen readers. Stamper’s debut illustrated novel is a coming-of-age Holocaust story set in a displaced persons camp, told through the voice of a young German girl violist who before the war did not know she was Jewish.

Originally published between 1951 and 1978, the “All-of-a-Kind-Family” series drew heavily on the childhood of Taylor (1904–1978), a one-time professional dancer whose immigrant parents raised five daughters.