As a kid, I loved the ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY. Papa, Mama, Ella, Sarah, Henny, Charlotte, Gertie and — by the end of the first book –Baby Charlie felt like good friends. I’ve just re-read the first in the series for my fourth and fifth-grade book club.
Here’s a glimpse at the story line:
There’s something to be said for a book that makes you wish you’d been part of a poor immigrant family living in New York’s upper east side on the eve of World War I. Sydney Taylor’s time-honored classic does just that.
Life is rich for the five mischievous girls in the family. They find adventure in visiting the library, going to market with Mama, even dusting the front room. Young readers who have never shared a bedroom with four siblings, with no television in sight, will vicariously experience the simple, old-fashioned pleasures of talk, make-believe, and pilfered penny candy. The family’s Jewish faith strengthens their ties to each other, while providing still more excitement and opportunity for mischief. Readers unfamiliar with Judaism will learn with the girls during each beautifully depicted holiday.
This lively family, subject of four more “all-of-a- kind” books, is full of unique characters, all deftly illustrated by Helen John. Taylor based the stories on her own childhood family, and the true-life quality of her writing gives this classic its page-turning appeal. (Ages 9 to 12)
Evidently, Sydney Taylor changed her name from Sarah to Sydney as a young woman (the second eldest child in the story). This would have thrilled me to know as a young reader!
Did anyone else read this series as a child?
No, I haven’t Caroline. I think I should read it. Thanks for sharing.
Natalie Aguirre says
No, Caroline. I would have liked it. Thanks for sharing it.
Adventures in Children's Publishing says
Caroline, thanks for unearthing an unknown for me. I have never heard of this series. Around this age, I was knee-deep in Gary Paulsen books and Choose Your Own Adventures. Thanks for the recommendations!
Kristi Faith says
They look great and I know my Princesses would love them. I haven’t even heard of them, so I’ll be looking.
Speaking of…do you remember a book or series of books about growing up in Mormon Utah during the sixties? Of course, I could be wrong about the time frame, it’s been since I was a child that I read it. I think one of the books was called, The Great Brain
Caroline Starr Rose says
Marissa, I didn’t discover Gary Paulsen until I was an adult, but I loved Choose Your Own Adventures. My boys have started reading them, too.
Kristi, yes! I’ve only read 1-2 Great Brain books, though I think they took place earlier than the sixties (I have a memory of the family being the first to get indoor plumbing).
Jody Hedlund says
I didn’t read these, but they look good! Was just reading your post from Friday too. Boy, you really have a lot going on in your life right now! But I like the life=risk. It’s so true. Why waste our few precious days on earth worrying. Why not attempt to live life to the fullest! Blessings on your new adventure! 🙂
YES! I loved those books. My mom began to read the out loud to my siblings and me, and I remember being so hooked that I took it and kept reading myself. They were read-again-ers, as I recall.
I just read Katherine Patterson’s newest book “The Day of the Pelican”–about a Kosovar family’s experience during the oppression and ethnic cleansing. Stories are such an amazing way to climb inside someone’s experience you could never have on your own. All of a Kind is that way.
A.L. Sonnichsen says
I hadn’t heard of these books before, but I went right away and requested the first one from my library system. I think my daughter will love them. Thanks, Caroline!
I haven’t read these yet. But there is something to say for using your childhood when it’s a unique one.
Caroline, Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories with this post. All of a Kind Family and the other books in the series were great favorites in our family. My oldest daughter, about to begin graduate studies in English, read All of a Kind Family over and over again!
Shannon O'Donnell says
I’ve never even heard of it. How sad. I’ll have to find them and read them and save them for my daughter. 🙂
Heidi Willis says
Oh my gosh!! I LOVED these books!! Love love loved them!! I still have my copies and they are so ragged and torn from rereading! I think my entire view of New York was based on these books, and nearly everything I knew growing up about Jewish traditions and holidays were from these books.
Are you sure we didn’t grow up in the same house? We share a love of an awful lot of the same books! 🙂
Jemi Fraser says
I don’t remember reading this series – but it looks like a lot of fun 🙂
Lydia Kang says
I haven’t read it but it looks great!
Wow! I’ve never heard of this, but I’m definitely going to find it for my girls. It looks great!
How did I not know about these as a kid? I would have LOVED them! Come to think of it… I would love them still. Thanks for the recommendation.
Also, I finally posted my verse novel challenge choices. :o)
My Hannah absolutely loves those books.
So happy to have discovered your blog. Hope you are doing well!
Jen (from Bethesda)
Ruth Donnelly says
Caroline, I just found your blog via your How I Got My Agent article on GLA (which was great, by the way!)
I LOVED the All-of-a-Kind Family. I felt like I knew them; their personalities were so vivid to me. I loved the chapter where Sarah lost her library book … and the one in which where Gertie and Charlotte ate crackers in bed! Thanks for reminding me about this book.