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Top Jewish children’s books include stories about a Yiddish culture rescuer and the Holocaust

(JTA) — A picture book about the founder of the National Yiddish Book Center and a debut graphic novel of a gripping Holocaust story are among the gold medal winners of this year’s Sydney Taylor Book Awards for Jewish children’s books.

Leslea Newman, the author of 70 books, including many Jewish titles, was recognized with the body of work award.

The top awards handed out by the Association of Jewish Libraries were announced Monday at the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting in Philadelphia as part of the latter association’s Youth Media Awards.

The Sydney Taylor awards recognize books with “high literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.”

“The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come,” by Sue Macy and illustrated by Stacy Innerst, won in the picture book category. The biography traces Aaron Lansky’s unlikely path to rescuing Yiddish language books and helping to keep alive Yiddish culture.

J. Palacio’s debut graphic novel, “White Bird: A Wonder Story,” took the top honor for middle grade readers. It is based on characters from Palacio’s bestselling “Wonder” series of books that have been made into a film.

Newman, whose new picture book, “Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story,” illustrated by Amy June Bates, won this year’s Sydney Taylor silver medal and also garnered the recently announced 2019 National Jewish Book Award in children’s literature. Her trailblazing book “Heather Has Two Mommies” remains in print after 30 years.

Fourteen honor and notable book winners were named as well on Monday.

The winners will receive their awards, which are named for the author of the “All-of-a-Kind Family” series, at the American Library Association’s annual conference in June in Evanston, Illinois.