In April 2021 Green Bean Books and Jewish Book Week revealed the winners of the inaugural Jewish Children’s Book Awards. The winner of the illustration prize was: Sharon Spitz with S.Y. Agnon. The winner of the writing prize was: Carol Isaacs for Samira’s Stars.
Judge Michael Leventhal commented: “Sharon’s illustrations are beautiful and powerful. She is incredibly talented and creative. Carol’s text is a spell-binding evocation of the history of Jewish life in Iraq and a compelling story for children.”
The winners are running a special illustration workshop during Jewish Book Week’s Family Day at Kings Place on Sunday, April 3, 2022. The 2022/2023 JCBA competition will launch that day, which will again seek to find Jewish children’s stories and illustrators from Europe. See www.greenbeanbooks.com or www.jewishbookweek.com for details.
The rich and textured illustrations, rendered in pencil and watercolour, bring to life the biography of the Jewish author S.Y. Agnon. Spitz’s original style is a combination of realism and fantasy. Through impressionistic colouring of the world outside Agnon’s window Sharon Spitz allows the readers to see it through his eyes offering a unique glimpse into his creative imagination.
Sharon Spitz is an illustrator from Haifa, Israel with a passion for nature, animals, and sustainability. She studied at the NB Haifa School of Design and graduated with honours from the Department of Visual Communication in 2017. Her work focuses on details and textures, and she combines traditional techniques with digital methods to create her illustrations.
Samira’s Stars is based on memories of the author’s family. Set in Bagdad, the story is told from the viewpoint of a young girl. It describes routines of daily life for a Jewish family in Iraq, including special dishes they prepare for the Sabbath. The story perfectly captures the magic and mystery of Shabbat.
Carol Isaacs is a London-based musician (Sinead O’Connor and Indigo Girls) and cartoonist known as The Surreal McCoy (New Yorker, Private Eye). Her first adult graphic memoir The Wolf of Baghdad was based on her family’s recollections of their lost homeland of Iraq.
Each winner received £1,000 as well as a unique personalised tapestry. The awards were judged by author and chair of the book selection committee of PJ Library Chris Barash; publisher of Green Bean Books Michael Leventhal; director of the Children’s and YA department at Kinneret-Zmora-Dvir Yael Molchadsky; and translator and author Lawrence Schimel.
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