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Sydney Taylor Book Awards winners named

JTA

March 21, 2011 | 1:12 pm

A spunky 11-year-old, troll-fighting Orthodox Jewish girl who dreams of slaying dragons is the unlikely heroine of this year’s Sydney Taylor Book Awards for older readers.

The awards, in three age categories, were announced recently by the Association of Jewish Libraries.

“Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword” is an inventive graphic novel by Barry Deutsch. The cast of characters in this comic includes a mean-tongued stepmother, an older sister obsessed with finding a husband and a talking pig.

Author Howard Schwartz won in the younger reader category for “Gathering Sparks,” which was illustrated by Kristina Swarner. Schwartz, a noted storyteller, weaves a gentle tale of a grandfather and grandchild based on the 16th century rabbinic midrash of creation and tikkun olam, the concept of repairing the world. It was Schwartz’s second book with Swarner, who also received an award for illustrating “Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book” by Sarah Gershman.

In the teen readers category, author Dana Reinhardt won for her novel “The Things a Brother Knows,” a poignant story of Boaz Katznelson, a U.S. Marine who returns home from war with deep emotional scars, and his younger brother, Levi, who wants to understand. The novel about an Israeli-American family received numerous other prestigious awards.

This year’s winners stand out for the wide range and diversity of topics and style, according to Barbara Bietz, a children’s author and chair of the awards committee.

Thirty-two other books were selected from 120 titles. The awards, created in 1968, are named in memory of Sydney Taylor, the author of the series “All of a Kind Family.”

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