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Award-Winning PJ Library Selections

PJ Library is proud to have selected many children's books to be among its selections that have also been honored by AJL. "The Association of Jewish Libraries is a well-respected resource for Jewish families and educators. I am happy to see that the AJL, like PJ Library, finds these titles to be exceptional," says PJ Library Book Selection Committee Chair Chris Barash.

Sydney Taylor Book Award-Winners

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) is recognized as one of the foremost authorities of Jewish children's literature. AJL's Sydney Taylor Book Award, was created in 1968, but was originally called the Shirley Kravitz Children's Book Award. The award was renamed the Sydney Taylor Book Award in 1978 after the passing of author Sydney Taylor, famous for her All-of-a-Kind Family series.

A is for Abraham

A Is for Abraham
Author: Richard Michelson
Illustrator: Ron Mazellan

2010 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

From A to Z, this alphabet book incorporates Jewish concepts, historical figures, and rituals through short poems and longer explanatory text. Explored topics range from klezmer music and Albert Einstein to Purim and the Hebrew language.

The Always Prayer Shawl

The Always Prayer Shawl
Author: : Sheldon Oberman
Illustrator: Ted Lewin

1994 Award Gold Medal Winner, Younger Readers

In this poignant story of tradition and love passed along from one generation to the next, a prayer shawl makes its way from grandfather to grandson.

Bagels from Benny

Bagels from Benny
Author: Aubrey Davis
Illustrator: Dusan Petricic

2003 Award Gold Medal Winner

While working in his grandfather's bakery, Benny learns the joys of giving and receiving, caring and gratitude.

The Bedtime Sh'ma

The Bedtime Sh'ma
Author: Sarah Gershman
Illustrator: Kristina Swarner

2008 Award Gold Medal Winner, Young Readers

Peace and gentleness are evoked in this nighttime rendition of the central Jewish prayer of God's oneness, the Sh'ma.

Cakes & Miracles

Cakes & Miracles
Author: Barbara Diamond Goldin
Illustrator: Jaime Zollars

2011 Award Winner, Young Readers

Hershel's blindness doesn't keep him from living life. He helps his mother by doing chores, but wishes he could do even more for her. When an angel appears in Hershel's dream and encourages him to make what he sees when he closes his eyes, the boy sneaks into the kitchen, transforming his mother's cookie dough into beautiful hamantaschen (three-cornered fruit-filled cookies) that can be sold to raise money for the family at Purim.

The Castle on Hester Street

The Castle on Hester Street
Author: Linda Heller
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov

1982 Award Gold Medal Winner, Young Readers

In this immigration story, a young girl's grandmother contradicts her husband's recollections of what it was like coming to America from Russia. Was he really pulled to New York by a flying goat? Is there truly a castle on Hester Street?

Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty

Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
Author: Linda Glaser
Illustrator: Claire A. Nivola

2011 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

Emma Lazarus was raised in a wealthy Jewish American family in 1880's New York City, where she was moved by the plight of immigrants. As a young woman, asked to write a poem to raise money for a pedestal for the proposed Statue of Liberty, she composed "The New Colossus" and so became the voice of the Statue of Liberty. This is the story of the difference she made in her world.

Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride

Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride
Author: Deborah Bodin Cohen
Illustrator: Shahar Kober

2009 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

Israel's first train chugs from Jaffa to Jerusalem just in time for Rosh Hashanah, taking treats to children for a sweet new year and seeing sights all along the way.

Gershon's Monster

Gershon's Monster
Author: Eric Kimmel
Illustrator: Jon J. Muth

2000 Award Gold Medal Winner

Instead of dealing with his mistakes, Gershon the baker sweeps them into the cellar. In this retelling of a Hasidic legend, Gershon eventually discovers a better way of living.

Hanukkah at Valley Forge

Hanukkah at Valley Forge
Author: Stephen Krensky
Illustrator: Greg Harlin

2007 Award Gold Medal Winner, Young Readers

In this fact-based story of the Revolutionary War, a Jewish soldier from Poland lights a Hanukkah menorah and has the opportunity to share the story of the Maccabees with his superior officer, General George Washington.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Author: Eric Kimmel
Illustrator: Trina Schart Hyman

1989 Honor Award Winner, Younger Readers

Hershel finds a way to outwit the goblins that haunt the village synagogue and are keeping the villagers from celebrating Hanukkah.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
Author: Simms Taback
Illustrator: Simms Taback

1999 Honor Award Winner, Younger Readers

In this beloved Jewish folktale, Joseph's old and tattered coat is recycled and takes the form of increasingly small articles of clothing.

The Market Wedding

The Market Wedding
Author: Cary Fagan
Illustrator: Regolo Ricci

2011 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

In this love story set in turn-of-the-century England, the village fishmonger schemes to give his bride everything she deserves, with unexpected results!

Mrs. Moskowitz and the Sabbath Candlesticks

Mrs. Moskowitz and the Sabbath Candlesticks
Author: : Amy Schwartz
Illustrator: Amy Schwartz

1984 Award Gold Medal Winner, Younger Readers

An elderly woman is unable to enjoy her new residence until her rediscovery of a pair of memory-filled Sabbath candlesticks turns an apartment into a home.

Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim

Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim
Author: Deborah Bodin Cohen
Illustrator: Jago

2010 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

As the Israelites rush to leave Egypt after being freed from slavery, young Nachshon is the first to brave the water that must be crossed, even though he is afraid to take the plunge.

Naming Liberty

Naming Liberty
Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: Jim Burke

2011 Honor Award Winnner, Young Readers

In this moving tale of a young girl and a famous artist, both are passionate in their desire to build a lasting monument to freedom. Each has a special connection to Lady Liberty in New York Harbor.

New Year at the Pier

New Year at the Pier
Author: April Halprin Wayland
Illustrator: Stephane Jorisch

2010 Award Gold Medal Award Winner, Young Readers

In this contemporary story, Izzy finds it difficult to apologize for a certain mistake, until the Rosh Hahanah taschlich service gives him new understanding.

Rebecca's Journey Home

Rebecca's Journey Home
Author: Brynn Olenberg Sugarman
Illustrator: Michelle Shapiro

2007 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

Mr. and Mrs. Stein and their two sons eagerly adopt a baby girl from Vietnam into their Jewish home.

Sammy Spider's Frist Trip to Israel

Sammy Spider's Frist Trip to Israel
Author: Sylvia Rouss
Illustrator: Katherine Janus Kahn

2002 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

As a stowaway on a little boy's model airplane, Sammy Spider joins the family's sightseeing trip in Israel and uses his five senses to experience the country.

Shlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost

Shlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Illustrator: Jacqueline M. Cohen

2007 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

In this retelling of a folktale, lazy Shlemazel is tricked into believing that fame and fortune await him - if only he uses a very special spoon in the correct way.

Shlemiel Crooks

Shlemiel Crooks
Author: Anna Olswanger
Illustrator: Paula Goodman Koz

2006 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

A pair of thieves lose their horse and wagon while trying to steal a shipment of kosher Passover wine from Israel.

When Jessie Came Across the Sea

When Jessie Came Across the Sea
Author: Amy Hest
Illustrator: P.J. Lynch

1997 Honor Award Winner, Younger Readers

Jessie lives in an Eastern European shtetl. The rabbi in her town decides to give Jessie his ticket to America, where she works for years to save enough money to send for her beloved grandmother.

The Wisdom Bird

The Wisdom Bird
Author: Sheldon Oberman
Illustrator: Neil Waldman

2000 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

In this story based on Jewish and African tales, the Queen of Sheba travels a great distance to meet King Solomon, who is known far and wide for his wisdom. During her visit, both the queen and king learn important lessons from a little bird.

The World's Birthday

The World's Birthday
Author: Barbara Diamond Goldin
Illustrator: Jeanette Winter

1990 Honor Award Winner, Younger Readers

Daniel is determined to celebrate Rosh Hashanah by having a proper birthday party for the world.

The Yankee at the Seder

The Yankee at the Seder
Author: Elka Weber
Illustrator: Adam Gustavson

2010 Honor Award Winner, Young Readers

As a confederate family prepares for Passover the day after the Civil War has ended, a Yankee arrives on their doorstep and is invited to their seder.


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