NEW YORK – Richard Michelson’s The Language of Angels: A Story About the Reinvention of Hebrew has won the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in the Children’s Literature category, and has been named a 2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award Gold Medalist.
The Language of Angels, written by Michelson, illustrated by Karla Gudeon and published by Charlesbridge Publishing, tells the story of how Eliezer Ben-Yehuda developed the Modern Hebrew language, through the eyes of his young son, Ben-Zion.
The National Jewish Book Awards is the longest-running awards program of its kind and were established by the Jewish Book Council in 1950 to recognize outstanding works of Jewish literature.
On Jan. 10, The Jewish Book Council announced all of the winners of the 2017 National Jewish Book Awards, now in its 67th year and Michelson is in good company.
The winners include the Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year, Francine Klagsbrun’s Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel; David E. Fishman’s The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis, which won the inaugural Holocaust Award In Memory of Ernest W. Michel; and David Grossman’s A Horse Walks into a Bar. Michelson and his fellow National Jewish Book Award winners will be honored March 6 at a gala awards dinner and ceremony in Manhattan.
Named in memory of Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series, the Sydney Taylor Book Awards recognizes books for children and teens that exemplify high literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.
In the announcement of The Language of Angel’s win in the Younger Readers category of the Sydney Taylor Award, it is noted that, “This beautiful picture book tells the story of how Hebrew became an everyday language in Israel, after being out of use for two thousand years. The folk art illustrations are an illuminating match.”
Michelson’s children’s books have been listed among the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and The New Yorker; and among the 12 Best Books of the Decade by Amazon.com. In 2009 Michelson received both a Sydney Taylor Gold and Silver Medal from the Association of Jewish Librarians, the only author so honored in AJL’s 47-year history. The Language of Angels has also been chosen as a PJ Library selection and a Junior Library Guild selection.
Michelson, who lives in Amherst, owns R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton.