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Winner Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers

NEW YEAR AT THE PIER–A Rosh Hashanah Story

by April Halprin Wayland
illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

Izzy’s favorite part of Rosh Hashanah is Tashlich, a joyous waterside ceremony in which people apologize for their mistakes of the previous year, cleaning the slate for the new year.  But there’s one mistake on Izzy’s “I’m sorry” list he’s finding especially hard to say out loud.

Humor and touching moments of forgiveness between family and friends are combined in this beautifully illustrated picture book for holiday sharing.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

I’m THRILLED that it’s illustrated by the multi-award-winning Stéphane Jorisch —his watercolors are fabulous (and he’s a really nice person, too!)

Stéphane Jorisch is an award-winning illustrator who won the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Illustration in 2008 for his work on Jabberwocky. The Governor General’s Award is Canada’s equivalent of the Caldecott and is given annually to an illustrator for an English-language children’s book.

Here are some photos of my friends Bruce Balan and Alene Rice and me taking part in the tradition of Tashlich.

Here’s my blog post and poem about accepting that award.

Kathe Schapiro Pinchuk & moi at the banquet


I have a recurring dream.  I’m in the Davis, California, house I lived in college, or I’m in the Santa Monica rental we lived when I was in middle school, or I’m in the Manhattan Beach house I live now….I walk into the living room and there’s a room I’ve never seen before beyond it.  Or I open a closet and find a new bedroom that looks out into the backyard.

It’s always wonderful.  When I dreamed of the kitchen in my college commune, it was huge—so big that we all held hands and danced the hora in it.

It’s a room-to-breathe dream, a dream of possibilities, of new rooms in my heart.

I learned, through writing New Year at the Pier, which is about Tashlich, about apologizing and forgiving, that when I clear out the gunk in my life, my heart has more rooms in it than I knew.

So, are you all in my dream?  Have I stumbled into a new room just beyond our bathroom?  Because, oh, my.  My heart is open tonight.

It’s open so wide that there’s room for the whole amazing Sydney Taylor Book Award committee and all who aided and abetted them: Susan Berson, Barbara Bietz, Kathy Bloomfield, Debbie Colodny, Heidi Estrin, Rachel Kamin, Kathe Pinchuck, and Rita Soltan.  There’s room for the entire Association of Jewish Libraries!  There’s room, in fact, for all of
you: my heart has a room for every librarian who moves books into the hands of readers.

There’s wild party room in there, too, filled with all my fabulous fellow Sydney Taylor winners, honorees and notable writers and illustrators.

There’s room for AJL’s president, my dear friend Suzy Dubin, who championed this book since it was a spark in my eye and who critiqued several early versions of it.

There’s room for my editors at Dial, Lauri Hornik and Jessica Garrison, who pushed me almost past my breaking point so that this book could sing.

There’s a special room with a fish tank for my illustrator Stéphane Jorisch, who grew up on the St.Lawrence River, and spent most of his teens on the water.  He is Canada’s most highly awarded children’s illustrator, and you can see why.  He’s a generous human being with whom I am honored to be associated.

There’s room for my best friend since kindergarten, Elizabeth who’s here tonight.

There’s room for my father and my mother and my warm tribe of relatives, represented by my cousins Katherine and Ben.

There’s a spacious garage with room for a boat for Alan Jackson, my fabulous brother-in-law.

There’s a beautiful writing room with a view of her future for my sister Lyra.

There’s a soundproof room for my son, Jeff and the UC Berkeley marching band, there’s room for his medical lab and room to store his cherished bicycle.  There’s room for his beautiful spirit, too.

And there’s a special room with a Jacuzzi for Gary, my Beloved.  There is room for you because you always have room for me.

I wrote a limerick:
An astounding New Year for this sailor—
A prize, interviews and book trailer.
So many to thank!
Before I go blank,
I’m grateful…to Ms. Sydney Taylor!

Now…Let me take you to my Manhattan Beach, CA pier during Rosh Hashanah.  5 p.m.  The sun slants in its September
way—golden through the fronds of the palms that line the promenade.  It’s summer—but it’s not.

We gather at the foot of the pier near the lifeguard tower, first a few families, some six year olds running in circles, the rabbi in his sunglasses, the cantor with his guitar and bullhorn.  More of us come in sundresses, in sandals and jeans, moms and dads, teens.  The weekenders look curiously as they bicycle past.

We walk up the pier, all 200 of us, singing avinu malkenu.  We are a sea of celebration moving toward the head of the pier. And after a contest of shofars, after the mothers have handed out slices of bread or little bags of bread crumbs, some of us take moments, private moments in this public gathering, for silent reflection.

These moments changed me.  I had to write about Tashlich.  I had to bring you there.  I want you to find your own Tashlich this New Year.  It changed my life.  I want it to change yours.

At the end of New Year at the Pier, after Izzy apologizes to Ben, The seagulls caw.  “It was mean,” Izzy says.  I’m sorry.”

He wishes Ben would say something.

Finally Ben says, “Izzy?”


“We’ve been friends for a long-long-long-long time, right?”


“So—because we’ve been friends for such a long-long-long-long time…you’re one hundred percent forgiven.”

“Really?”  Izzy looks at Ben.  Ben smiles.

“Okay—and from now on, I promise to keep your secrets secret!” Izzy says, feeding a piece of bread to Ben.

“And I promise to help you look for everything you lose,” Ben says.

They toss pieces of bread out to the fish.

Izzy’s heart feels as big as the ocean.

Izzy loves this changing time of year.  Some days sunglasses, some days sweaters.  The sound of the shofar and the salty smell of the sea.  Time to think about his family and this whole, wide, windy world.

Everyone sings one last song.  Then they slowly walk home, holding hands in a family-and-friends chain, with empty bread bags…

…and clean, wide-open hearts.

Thank you.

giving the speech…

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