The Sydney Taylor Book Award is awarded by the American Association of Jewish Libraries. From their official site:
The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) since 1968, the Award encourages the publication and widespread use of quality Judaic literature. Gold medals are presented in three categories: Younger Readers, Older Readers, and Teen Readers. Honor Books are awarded silver medals, and Notable Books are named in each category.
Lost Jacqueline Davies
This is one of this year's honor books for teen readers.
This is two stories in one. There is the storyline of the past, outlining the birth of Essie's little sister Zelda and how Essie became Zelda's main caregiver. Essie would do anything for Zelda and this storyline progresses quickly as Zelda grows until it meets the present. The other storyline is what is happening now. It's quickly apparent that when it comes to Zelda, Essie is not the most reliable narrator. Essie's working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where she meets the new girl, Harriet. Everything about Harriet is wrong. She's too fancy and obviously lost. She doesn't belong, but she intrigues Essie and they become friends.
There are those of us who see "Triangle Shirtwaist Factory" and know how this story will end. But while it gives us a horrific climax, the fire is not the focus of the story. Essie and Harriet have both lost something and are, in their own ways, lost. The layers in this story and the types of loss that are explored and ignored make this novel unbelievably haunting.
My favorite part of the book was Essie's voice. It is one of the most distinctive and memorable voices I've read and brings us right into the early twentieth century immigrant communities on the Lower East Side:
Mama is on the bed grunting like a pig, and Ida Pelz from next door is telling her to push. This is the fifth time Mrs. Pelz has helped Mama get a baby out. The first two times brought me, then Saulie. The last two times brought nothing but grief.
Saulie is in school, unless he's hooking, like he does most days. I should be in school, too, but clever me, I told Mama that my ear ached, and so she let me stay home.
And don't you see how God works in this world? Such a little lie it was, but this, this is my punishment. Standing in this dark hole of a room while Mama's insides spill onto the bed. I'm just ten years old, I shouldn't see any of this, but there is no one else to help. And Mrs. Pelz, she needs the hands. (page 1)
She draws you in and keeps you as the storylines flip back and forth. I also really liked the design of the book. The storyline in the past is printed on a grayscale picture of a cracked wall (the same wall on the cover, but without the hats.)
That's not the greatest of photos. Not only is the text flipped, but the real pages are grayer. However, you can see the plaster missing from the wall at the bottom and top of the page. It's a really nice touch to the book and really helps in providing a big clue that this storyline is a different time than the other one.
Overall, I loved this book. AND! Stay tuned because tomorrow (Tuesday) I'll be interviewing Jacqueline Davies. Here's the schedule for the entire blog tour of Sydney Taylor award winners:
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2010
April Halprin Wayland, author of New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Categoryat Practically Paradise
Stephane Jorisch, illustrator of New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Frume Sarah's World
Margarita Engle, author of Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category at bookstogether
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2010
Robin Friedman, author of The Importance of Wings Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category at Little Willow's Bildungsroman
Jacqueline Davies, author of Lost Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category at Biblio File (HEY! THAT'S HERE!)
Jonah Winter, author of You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Get in the Game: Read! and cross-posted at Examiner.com
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2010
Elka Weber, author of The Yankee at the Seder Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at BewilderBlog
Adam Gustavson, illustrator of The Yankee at the Seder Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Great Kids Books
Judy Vida, daughter of the late Selma Kritzer Silverberg, author of Naomi's Song Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category at The Book Nosher
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2010
Jacqueline Jules, author of Benjamin and the Silver Goblet Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at ASHarmony
Natascia Ugliano, illustrator of Benjamin and the Silver Goblet Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at The Book of Life
Deborah Bodin Cohen, author of Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Ima On and Off the Bima
Jago, illustrator of Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Jewish Books for Children
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2010
Annika Thor, author of A Faraway Island Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category at Teen Reads
Ellen Frankel, author of The JPS Illustrated Bible for Children Sydney Taylor Notable Book for All Ages at Deo Writer
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