the Jewish
Book Council 2023

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
Detour Ahead

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