Lerner Publishing Group Receives Eight American Library Association Youth Media Awards

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Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jan. 22, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — KAR-BEN PUBLISHER JONI SUSSMAN WINNER OF THE SYDNEY TAYLOR BODY-OF-WORK AWARD

NEARER MY FREEDOM BY MONICA EDINGER AND LESLEY YOUNGE NAMED A YALSA AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION FOR YOUNG ADULTS FINALIST

A POCKETFUL OF STARS BY AISHA BUSHBY, THE BEAR AND THE WILDCAT BY KAZUMI YUMOTO AND ILLUSTRATED BY KOMAKO SAKAI, AND THE MOON IS A BALL BY ED FRANCK AND ILLUSTRATED BY THÉ TJONG-KHING NAMED USBBY OUTSTANDING INTERNATIONAL BOOKS

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NOT SO SHY BY NOA NIMRODI NAMED A SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD HONOR IN THE MIDDLE GRADE CATEGORY

THE RABBI AND HIS DONKEY BY SUSAN TARCOV AND ILLUSTRATED BY DIANA RENJINA, AND ZHEN YU AND THE SNAKE BY ERICA LYONS AND ILLUSTRATED BY RENIA METALLINOU NAMED SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD NOTABLE BOOKS IN THE PICTURE BOOK CATEGORY

Lerner Publishing Group has received eight 2024 American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards. Kar-Ben Publisher Joni Sussman was honored with the Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award. Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself was named a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist. A Pocketful of Stars, The Bear and the Wildcat, and The Moon Is a Ball: Stories of Panda and Squirrel have been named USBBY Outstanding International Books. Not So Shy was named a Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Book in the Picture Book category and The Rabbi and His Donkey and Zhen Yu and the Snake have been named Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Books in the Picture Book category. The ALA awards were announced over the weekend and at the Youth Media Awards ceremony during the LibLearnX conference in Baltimore.

Kar-Ben Publisher Joni Sussman has been awarded with the Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award, which recognizes an author or entity who has made a substantial contribution over time to the genre of Jewish children’s literature. As publisher at Kar-Ben Publishing, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, for the last twenty years, Joni has greatly increased the reach of Jewish children’s literature by producing a significant number of high-quality titles on an ever-expanding variety of Jewish topics. Her efforts have put Jewish books in the eyes of the public and the hands of children on a new scale.

Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself, written Monica Edinger and Lesley Younge, and published in 2023 by Zest Books™, was named a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, which is presented annually and honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults. Also named a Boston Globe Best Books of 2023, Nearer My Freedom explores Olaudah Equiano’s life story—his childhood in Africa, enslavement, liberation, and life as a free man—through “found verse,” a creative approach to primary source analysis. The authors selected excerpts from Equiano’s autobiography to create the poetic retelling, adding annotations to deepen understanding. In a starred review, Booklist says Nearer My Freedom is “[An] absorbing, singular creation.”

A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby, The Bear and the Wildcat by Kazumi Yumoto and illustrated by Komako Sakai, and The Moon Is a Ball: Stories of Panda and Squirrel by Ed Franck and illustrated by Thé Tjong-Khing by Ed Franck and illustrated by Thé Tjong-Khing have been named USBBY Outstanding International Books.  All three books were recognized by the Outstanding International Books committee as international books for young people that were deemed most outstanding of those published during the calendar year.

Not So Shy by Noa Nimrodi has been named a Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor in the Middle Grade category. In addition, The Rabbi and His Donkey by Susan Tarcov and illustrated by Diana Renjina, and Zhen Yu and the Snake by Erica Lyons and illustrated by Renia Metallinou, have been named Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Books in the Picture Book category.  All three books were recognized by the Sydney Taylor Book Awards committee as outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.

“Lerner Publishing Group is honored to receive eight ALA awards and honors in the same year,” said Adam Lerner, Publisher and CEO of Lerner Publishing Group. “Our commitment to diversity shines through with amazing stories and artwork from Monica, Lesley, Aisha, Kazumi, Komako, Ed, Thé,  Noa, Susan, Diana, Erica, and Renia. We are thrilled that the Sydney Taylor Book Award, YALSA, and Outstanding International Books committees have recognized these powerful books. We also are extremely proud of Joni Sussman’s Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award which is a well-deserved tribute right before her retirement. Joni has put her own personal touch on hundreds of books over the last twenty years at Kar-Ben and we are forever grateful for the amazing impact she has made at Lerner and in Jewish children’s literature.”

For more information about Nearer My Freedom, A Pocketful of Stars, The Bear and the Wildcat, The Moon Is a Ball, Not So Shy, The Rabbi and His Donkey, and Zhen Yu and the Snake visit lernerbooks.com.

Praise for Nearer My Freedom:
“In this unique work of nonfiction, Edinger and Younge transform the words of Olaudah Equiano’s 1789 autobiographical slavery narrative into found-verse poetry. . . . [An] absorbing, singular creation.”
— starred, Booklist

“Highly readable as well as informative. An excellent way to understand a remarkable individual and his times.”
—starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Without losing the source text’s emotional heft, Edinger and Younge’s visceral poems respectfully provide an effective entry point into the seminal work.”—starred, Publishers Weekly

“[T]he story makes for compelling reading that moves quickly. . . . This important and unique work introduces this pivotal man to a new audience and will make for interesting classroom discussions.”—starred, School Library Journal

“Monica Edinger and Lesley Younge—former fourth grade co-teachers—brilliantly transform the autobiography into ‘found poems’ by cutting and rearranging Equiano’s original into verse . . . Their deft transformation of Equiano’s odyssey is well-equipped to inspire and empower new generations.”—starred, Shelf Awareness

Praise for A Pocketful of Stars:
“Equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking. A poignantly written novel that is hard to put down and even harder to forget.” —starred, Kirkus Reviews

Praise for The Bear and the Wildcat:
“Quietly contemplative, mingling hope and healing, this is a book that will offer comfort to many.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Elegant, understated spreads over scumbled black backdrops by Sakai divide the story, the first half dark with Bear’s misery, the second half dawning with light. Hirano’s fine translation renders Bear’s transition in simple, natural-sounding English, and Yumoto’s sensitive characterization makes the story a touchstone for talking about loss.”—starred, Publishers Weekly

Praise for The Moon Is a Ball:
“[C]aptivating text, ideal for reading aloud. . .”—The New York Times

Praise for Not So Shy:
“Touching, tender, and heartbreaking.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Praise for The Rabbi and His Donkey:
“This thought-provoking tale will be especially welcome as an introduction to Maimonides. A reminder that wisdom comes in different forms and from different sources.”―Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Zhen Yu and the Snake:
“A novel take on a traditional tale.”―Kirkus Reviews

About Kar-Ben Publishing®
Kar-Ben Publishing®, founded in 1974, is an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With more than 400 titles in print, Kar-Ben is the largest publisher of exclusively Jewish-themed children’s books in the world, publishing 20-24 new, high quality children’s titles each year. For more information, visit karben.com.

About Zest Books™
Zest BooksTM, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, is a leader in young adult nonfiction, publishing books on entertainment, history, science, health, fashion, and lifestyle advice. Our award-winning books are attractively designed, well researched, smart, and easy to read. So whether you’re looking for better ways to cope with stress, new options for life after high school, or a bit more pop culture blended into your information, we’ve got a book for you! Founded in San Francisco in 2006, Zest joined the Lerner Publishing Group family in 2018.

About Carolrhoda Books®
Carolrhoda Books®, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, creates high-quality fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. Our picture books spark children’s imaginations and offer new ways of looking at the world. Our middle-grade books stand out not only for their quality, but also for the breadth of genres encompassed, from coming-of-age stories to exceptional nonfiction to mysteries.

About Gecko Press™
Gecko Press, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group™, is an international publisher of curiously good children’s books. Founded in 2005, Gecko Press hand-picks books by some of the best writers and illustrators in the world—books of good heart and strong character, excellent in story, illustration and design. Gecko Press prides itself on good production—design, paper, bindings, covers—and on trying to make each book the best it can be. Gecko Press books are sold throughout the English-speaking world, in print and digital editions.

About Lerner Publishing Group™
Lerner Publishing Group creates high-quality fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. Founded in 1959, Lerner Publishing Group is one of the nation’s largest independent children’s book publishers with fifteen imprints and divisions: Carolrhoda Books®, Carolrhoda Lab®, Darby Creek™, ediciones Lerner, First Avenue Editions™, Gecko Press™, Graphic Universe™, Kar-Ben Publishing®, Lerner Publications, LernerClassroom™, Lerner Digital™, Millbrook Press™, Twenty-First Century Books™, Zest Books™, and Lerner Publisher Services™. For more information, visit www.lernerbooks.com or call 800-328-4929.

Find us on all social media platforms at @LernerBooks.

To purchase Nearer My Freedom, A Pocketful of Stars, The Bear and the Wildcat, The Moon Is a Ball, Not So Shy, The Rabbi and His Donkey, or Zhen Yu and the Snake please visit your local bookstore, order by phone at 800-328-4929, or visit us online at lernerbooks.com.

CONTACT: Lindsay Matvick Lerner Publishing Group 6123323344 [email protected] 

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