the Jewish
Book Council 2023
The Year’s Winner

The Jew­ish Book Coun­cil announces the win­ners of this year’s National Jew­ish Book Awards, based on books published last year in 2021. Winners receive cash prizes from generous donors to the JBC who endowed funds for various categories. These awards were estab­lished in 1950 to rec­og­nize outstand­ing works of Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture. They are the old­est awards of their kind. Retired librarian Ellen Cole recommends these special books.

Children’s Picture Book:

Winner:  Dear Mr. Dick­ens
This rare story of an ordinary mother confronting a world famous author about his naked anti-Semitism is stunning.  Eliza Davis, an English-Jewish wife and mother is upset by Charles Dickens’ description of Fagin in his best seller Oliver Twist. She writes to him until he answers, persisting until she stops a wrong. Dickens atones. The book includes quotes from their 19th century correspondence confronting a problem still potent today.

Bar­tal­i’s Bicycle
Soosie: The Horse That Saved Shabbat
The Peo­ple’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Jus­tice with Art
The Singer and the Scientist 


Middle Grade Literature:

Winner: Linked
Someone sneaks into school, vandalizes it with a swastika. Who would do such a thing? Because Michael was the first person to see it, he’s the first suspect. Because Link is one of the popular guys, everyone assumes he will figure it out. Because Dana’s the only Jewish girl in the whole town, everyone’s treating her like an outsider more than ever. They discover the truth involves crimes of the past and present before solving the mystery.

The Unfin­ished Corner
How to Find What You’re Not Look­ing For 


Young Adult Literature:

Winner: Rebel Daughter
A young woman survives the unthinkable in this emotionally satisfying historical fiction of family, love and resilience set against the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Esther dreams of so much more than her arranged marriage to a prosperous silversmith. As the streets turn into a bloody battleground between rebels and Romans, Esther’s journey becomes one of life or death, braving famine, siege, and slavery to protect her own. 

The City Beautiful
When the World Was Ours