Lesley Simpson wins 2012 Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award

Lesley Simpson’s Yuvi’s Candy Tree (Kar-Ben Publishing) is the winner of the 2012 Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award in the youth category. A program of the Koffler Centre of the Arts, the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards celebrate excellence in contemporary Canadian writing that reflects Jewish themes and subjects.

About Lesley Simpson:
Lesley Simpson is a Canadian journalist and picture book author. Her previous books include The Shabbat Box and The Purim Surprise. Lesley has taught journalism and creative writing at Canadian universities. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

About Yuvi’s Candy Tree:
Plucky Yuvi, a little Jewish girl living in Ethiopia, dreams of a place where bread is plentiful and candy grows on trees. Yuvi’s Candy Tree tells the story of Yuvi’s extraordinary journey from Ethiopia to Israel with her grandmother. From famine and fear to oranges and freedom, her arrival in Israel is a literal dream come true. Yuvi’s Candy Tree is based on the true story of Yuvi Thashome, who immigrated to Israel during Operation Moses, which brought thousands of Ethiopian Jewish refugees from Sudan to Israel.

Jury citation:
Lesley Simpson’s beautifully restrained story introduces pre-schoolers to a dramatic episode in recent Jewish history: the exodus of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the 1980s and ‘90s. Fleeing their homes by night for an arduous journey through the desert, these refugees were beset by thieves and challenged by the elements. Many of those who made it to Sudanese refugee camps were then airlifted to Israel and resettled as part of Operation Moses.

With sensitivity and precision, Yuvi’s Candy Tree handles this material in a way appropriate to very young children. In the first-person narration of Yuvi, a five-year-old girl who escapes with her family, Simpson captures the voice of a very young child, paying close attention to the sensory and emotional details of a distant world — its colours and tastes and smells, its palpable fears and simple joys. In Yuvi she has created a small heroine whose cleverness and bravery help sustain her family.

Enveloping this tale and complementing it perfectly are Janice Lee Porter’s sensual, dreamlike illustrations.

The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, June 7 at 8 PM. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

For more information, please contact:

Tony Hewer | Head of Communications and Marketing | Koffler Centre of the Arts
t: 416.638.1881 x 4228 | f: 416.636.5813 | thewer@kofflerarts.org | www.kofflerarts.org