Bologna Ragazzi Award 2014 for Majn Alef Bejs
A Polish book on the Yiddish alphabet has won the main prize at one of the most important international events dedicated to the children’s publishing and multimedia industry around the world – the Bologna Children's Book Fair.
Majn Alef Bejs is a children’s book which presents the Hebrew letters of the Yiddish language, of which “alef” and “bejs” are the first two letters. In the competition, the book, written by Jehoszua Kaminski and illustrated by Urszula Palusińska, won first prize in the non-fiction category. The jury asserted that their decision was unanimous and undisputed.
The illustrations were full of unusual energy, made in a style that resembles a woodcut technique. Each double page has been perfectly designed in terms of form and general layout. Thanks to the graphical mastery, the book seems to be modern and traditional at the same time. – said the jury of their decision.
The Jewish Alphabet
Majn Alef Bejs is a unique combination of tradition and modernity. Jehoszua Kaminski (1884-1958) was a Jewish poet who created rhymes in Yiddish. His work, combined with the modern illustrations of a young Polish graphic designer, Urszula Palusińska (born 1984), has resulted in the award- winning book.
A third, “silent” author of the work is Wojciech Wilczyk, who adapted Kaminski's rhymes into Polish (his versions are based on the philological translations of Karolina Szymaniak from the original Yiddish). Both translations are included in the book.
A Majse Series
Majn Alef Bejs was published by Czulent, a Jewish association. It is part of the A Majse series, which also includes – A Majse (a counting rhyme in Yiddish referencing Jewish traditions) and Jontew Leader (poems which present the essence of the most important Jewish holidays).
The stories presented in the books are in the form of poems by Jewish authors writing in Yiddish during the interwar period and earlier - Icchak Lejbusz Perec, Kadia Mołodowska, Lejb Kwitko or the aforementioned Jehoszua Kaminski. All books are bilingual.
The Bologna Ragazzi Award is not the first to be received by Majn Alef Bejs. In November 2013, the book received a Special Mention in the Ilustrarte2014 competition.