The Jewish Book Council announces the winners of this year’s National Jewish Book Awards, based on books published last year in 2022. 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 Books:
Winner: The Very Best Sukkah : A Story from Uganda
This distinctive new picture book about Sukkot offers readers a fresh perspective. Set in Uganda’s Abayudaya Jewish community, it fills a gap in Jewish children’s literature as it expertly communicates layered themes about the holiday, community and competition as well as unique elements of African Jewish life. Illustrations draw color from the natural world; they are deeply rooted in both traditional African and Israeli art.
Alone Together on Dan Street
Tía Fortuna’s New Home: A Cuban Journey
Middle Grade Literature:
Winner: The Prince of Steel Pier
Filled with mystery, mayhem, and meaningful relationships, this fast-paced historical novel will capture any reader’s attention. In 1975 thirteen-year-old Joey Goodman spends the summer at his grandparents’ declining kosher hotel in Atlantic City where casinos threaten older businesses. Gambling has been legalized. Local mobsters give Joey a job which requires him to lie and puts his family in harm’s way. He must come to terms with his deceptions, choices and true loyalties. Joey’s Jewish identity is inseparable from the story which includes anti-Semitism.
Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis
Young Adult Literature:
Winner: It’s My Whole Life : Charlotte Salomon: An Artist in Hiding During World War II
This gripping biography reveals Charlotte Salomon, an enigmatic young artist who created the largest single work by a Jew during the Holocaust. As it honors her, it provides an ode to art capturing life’s everyday beauty and monumental horrors. A German-Jewish artist, she did a series of 769 autobiographical paintings while hiding from the Nazis until 1943. Her work is a painted parallel to Anne Frank’s Diary; it is an early graphic novel. Charlotte entrusted her collection to a friend just as she was captured and deported to Auschwitz. Vivid color photographs of Charlotte’s original work accompany the compelling text.
The Ghost of Rose Hill
Salt & Honey: Jewish Teens on Feminism, Creativity, and Tradition
When the Angels Left the Old Country