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New Year at the Pier

• winner of the Sydney Taylor Gold Medal for Younger Readers (essentially the Best Jewish Picture Book of the Year) awarded by the Association of Jewish Libraries
• 11,000 copy special edition was published exclusively for PJ Library for their subscribers
• starred review in Publishers Weekly
(see part of review below..link to PW isn’t working…)
• named Tablet Magazine’s Best Book of the Year

Scroll down for more reviews that make me very happy!

WOWEE! New Year at the Pier has won the Association of Jewish Libraries highest honor: the Sydney Taylor Award Gold Medal, “exemplifying the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.”

The Big Reveal: 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Awards sound bite:

The Big Reveal: 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Awards sound bite

Looking for interviews?
Reviews below.
Press Release:

Gold Medal for New Children’s Book Awarded to New Year at the Pier—A Rosh Hashanah Story

April Halprin Wayland and StĂ©phane Jorisch, have won the prestigious 2010 Gold Medal Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers–essentially the Best Jewish Picture Book of the Year–for their book, New Year at the Pier–a Rosh Hashanah Story.

Manhattan Beach, CA– April Halprin Wayland and StĂ©phane Jorisch, author and illustrator of the picture book New Year at the Pier—A Rosh Hashanah Story, have won the prestigious 2010 Gold Medal Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers–essentially the Best Jewish Picture Book of the Year. The winning children’s book is published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group. The Association of Jewish Libraries’ Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.

The main character of this “affectionate, celebratory children’s story of the Jewish New Year” is Izzy, whose favorite part of the Jewish New Year 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.

The “whimsical watercolor illustrations are a perfect paring for the delightful prose,” noted incoming Award Committee Chair Barbara Bietz.

Jewish Book World Magazine gave it five out of five stars, noting, “The text, inspired by Wayland’s own Jewish community, sings with life and energy. Jorisch’s watercolor and gouache paintings will make the reader smile. New Year at the Pier will be an excellent addition in religious school libraries and classrooms. It offers an excellent, thorough look at forgiveness during one of the most important holidays of the year.”

Industry leader, Booklist Magazine called it “an ideal choice for family readalouds as well as a useful addition to religious collections and public libraries.”

School Library Journal said, “…the universality of emotion and the quality presentation make this book a good choice for multicultural New Year celebrations.”

Children’s book author and poet April Halprin Wayland, who lives near the pier in Manhattan Beach, California, said that she was surprised by the award. “This book is about apologizing and forgiveness…and when I learned that I won, I felt personally forgiven for anything I’ve every done!” Wayland is a farmer turned folk musician turned author. Her critically acclaimed picture books, novel and poetry have garnered numerous awards and her work has been called “dazzling”, “honest, heartfelt, poignant”, and “utterly fresh and winning”. Wayland is well-known for being one of six authors on the blog TeachingAuthors.com: Six Children’s Authors Who Also Teach Writing. She’s been an instructor in UCLA Extension’s Writers Program for over a decade and teaches workshops in schools all over the world. New Year at the Pier is her sixth book. www.aprilwayland.com

StĂ©phane Jorisch, Canada’s most highly awarded children’s illustrator, has won four Canadian Governor General’s Literary Awards and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for the most distinguished French-language book of the year, which includes one of the largest cash prizes for children’s literature. Jorisch’s illustrations have been described as “light, poetic, playful, imaginative…and ingenious.” Jorisch was eager to illustrate this children’s book set near the sea. “I grew up on the St.Lawrence River, and spent most of my teens on the water, in anything that would float, propelled by motor, sail or oars.”

The Sydney Taylor Book Award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series. Wayland and Jorisch will receive their gold medal awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Seattle this July.

The 1:16 minute book trailer may be viewed here: http://www.aprilwayland.com/new-yearat-the-pier/book-trailer/

Information about the ritual of Tashlich: http://www.aprilwayland.com/new-yearat-the-pier/tashlich/

Tips on forgiving and apologizing: http://www.aprilwayland.com/new-yearat-the-pier/tashlich/forgiveness/

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Top Ten New Jewish Books for Kids~ These contemporary tales offer a modern light on what it means to be a Jew


Marjorie Ingall

This is my pick for the best Jewish picture book of the year.
It’s about Tashlich. It’s funny; it’s moving; it’s lyrical; there’s good dialogue. Best of all, it shows how hard apologizing can be, and how cathartic. The protagonist, Izzy, is a credible little kid—he apologizes to his sister for drawing on her forehead while she’s asleep. I like the fun , vaguely French watercolor illustrations, with lots of yummy detail in the kids’ clothes—Stéphane Jorisch has a way, in particular, with shoes. (And I like that Cantor Livia and her guitar-playing accompanist, with their flowy Berkeley-vibed clothing, look like a specific and familiar breed of middle-aged bobo Jewess.) This book is superb.

A wonderful 7-minute podcast review at JustOneMoreBook
Reviewers Andrea Ross & Mark Blevis hang out and talk about my book in a coffee shop.

We aren’t allowed to quote entire reviews, but we are allowed to quote a few sentences, so here they are!  Check back as we add more!

red-star-starred-review2Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW!
Wayland (Girl Coming in for a Landing) and Jorisch (Granddad’s Fishing Buddy) are perfectly paired: the empathetic, low-key prose makes important points about personal responsibility without pummeling readers, while the stylish, keenly observed watercolors convey both Izzy’s sheepish chagrin and the joys of communal tradition.
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Kirkus Reviews:

Jorisch’s watercolor-and-gouache paintings outlined in pen and ink offer a modern, cheerful view of a community sharing a particular ritual in the course of this significant holiday balanced against a child’s dilemma with how to do the right thing.

Izzy’s personal reflections and direct approach to apology and reconciliation set a plausible example of how failings and friendships can be improved through thoughtful behavior.

A well-crafted introduction to an alternative aspect of the holiday with room for discussion.

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an ideal choice for family readalouds as well as a useful addition to religious collections and public libraries…

Jorisch’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations capture the upbeat mood associated with this ceremony and the emotional rewards that come from starting anew. Izzy and his family are both believable and contemporary, making this an ideal choice for family readalouds as well as a useful addition to religious collections and public libraries.

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School Library Journal:

Poetic text and flowing autumnal illustrations support the contemplative nature of the tale. Emotions ring true…the universality of emotion and the quality presentation make this book a good choice for multicultural New Year celebrations.

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Barbara Bietz, author and blogger, Jewish Books for Children:

The brown package arrived at my door–and inside was my review copy of New Year at the Pier.  I couldn’t wait to curl up in my chair and crack the cover.  On page three I got a lump in my throat.  By page five I was swallowing hard.  The sniffle came on page ten—the deep sigh when I closed the cover.

What a lovely book! As a reader, I was pulled into Izzy’s world. As a writer, I was inspired by [its] beautifully  crafted words. Every Jewish family – every any kind of family – should have a copy.

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Association of Jewish Libraries:
A child’s perspective on atonement and repentace, expressed in meaningful and childlike ways, is sustained throughout a narrative that emphasizes both personal and communal atonement.  StĂ©phane Jorisch’s illustrations, with shades of watery blue predominating in the muted color palette, are an outstanding complement to the story.

Although tashlich is mentioned in several other children’s books about Rosh Hashanah, not since Carol Levin’s A Rosh Hashanah Walk (Kar-Ben, 1987) has [tashlich] been the subject of a picture book-and what a fine one!

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JT News—Seattle’s Jewish Newspaper ~ Rita Berman Frischer • Special to JTNews
Teshuvah at a child’s level is…the focus of the modern and delightful New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story (Dial Books, 2009, ages 6-9) by April Halprin Wayland, convincingly illustrated by Stephane Jorisch. As a former Southern Californian, I recognize the walk Izzy and his family take to Santa Monica Pier for Tashlich. Kids will recognize, too, how hard it is for Izzy to take inventory of all his mistakes and make amends. Only then can he toss bread crumbs for each mistake into the water and start the new year fresh and forgiven.

Believable family interaction, a good sense of community and some lovely language permeate this very now, very real story. Some of my favorites describing the place and process: “Some days sunglasses, some days sweaters. The sound of the shofar and the salty smell of the sea.” And then, as Izzy, the family and friends walk home, they take with them “empty bread bags…and clean, wide-open hearts.”

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Janelle at Brimful Curiosity a wonderful blog (tagline: “sometimes children’s books, sometimes not”) writes a great review from the viewpoint of someone unfamiliar with Rosh Hashanah.  Here’s a bit of it: I admit I didn’t know much about Rosh Hashanah before reading this picture book. New Year at the New Pier provides a touching introduction to the Jewish New Year and, in particular, the tradition of Tashlich. Before reading the book, I talked to my preschool daughter about different holidays, and I told her that this book describes a tradition where people take the time to apologize to each other. The important lessons of apology and empathy aren’t ones that are easily learned, but Izzy provides an excellent role model for all children, no matter their religion. My daughter’s favorite part of the book is where Izzy’s mother apologizes to him for always being on the phone. Hmmm…wonder if that is a subtle hint? Izzy has the hardest time apologizing to his best friend, and the actions he takes show children how they can reconcile with their own friends. While my daughter and I appreciate and understand Izzy’s story, I imagine that children that have experienced the actual ceremony would especially enjoy reading the book. Teachers and librarians may find the book useful in their discussions about New Year celebrations or religious celebrations.

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Pat Zietlow Miller’s blog includes books reviews by kids–how wonderful is that?  Denice, age 9, reviews New Year at the Pier…in what may be one of my all-time favorite reviews!  Below is a taste of Denice’s insightful review.  The rest is here.

This book was about: Two kids and the new year. They had to write four things they were sorry for, and they had to say sorry to the people who they did something to.

The best part was when: Izzy apologized to his friend, Ben, and they became friends again.

I laughed when: Izzy came up to his sister and said he was sorry for drawing on her forehead.

I was worried when: Izzy and his sister, Miriam, got mad at each other.

This book taught me: To say sorry whenever I do something wrong and not to to fight with my sister.

My favorite line or phrase from the book is: “Slowly, he puts up four fingers … for promising that he wouldn’t tell anyone that Ben sucks his thumb – and then telling!”

You should read this book because: It’s funny, and it teaches you some lessons about saying sorry.

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5 out of 5 starsSydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers
The author employs her own memories of community tashlich at the beach in this loving, charmingly illustrated description of Izzy and his family and friends as they gently apologize for misdeeds, grant forgiveness, and toss breadcrumbs into the sea as part of their Rosh Hashanah observance. The accepting vibe is vaguely Reconstructionist or post-denominational – the cantor is a woman, a congregant blows the shofar, some men wear kippot, a woman wearing pants plays the guitar, the leader of the congregation is called by his first name, Rabbi Neil, and Izzy’s mother appears to be a single parent. Izzy compares tashlich to cleaning out his toy closet, an example of the wonderful way this story conveys to children, at their own level, a contemporary version of the healthy Jewish way we start fresh at the beginning of each new year. – SUSAN BERSON – DENVER, CO

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Having lived near Manhattan Beach, CA I could picture this story in my mind as I read it. Striking, warm, colorful artwork is used to perfectly illustrate the time of year and the celebration of Tashlich at the pier on the beach. The story is beautifully told as Ms. Wayland describes the difficulty in remembering all the things we are sorry for and then apologizing to each individual we have hurt. The message is clear: It is not enough to say, “Sorry,” to God, we must seek forgiveness from the people themselves. Izzy, the book’s main character, learns and we learn, about “Cleaning out the closet of our souls.” His struggle is real, as he tries to find the strength to say he is sorry to his best friend. We feel for him for haven’t we each shared his struggle?  This is a wonderful, perfect story to convey this very important message to young children at the High Holiday season.

I highly recommend it for all Jewish libraries.

Grade Range:
1st-4th grades

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