Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

This book is the first in a series about 5 poor little Jewish sisters living with their loving parents in New York City prior to WWI. It is very much a gentle middle grade story, told episodically with only the slenderest of threads keeping it from being related short stories. There is a charm to the novel but it is one that is hard for an adult who doesn't already have fond reading memories of it to pick up and enjoy thoroughly. The historical situation is interesting and the little girls are lovely. The easy introduction of Judaism was natural and likely somewhat exotic when it was published. It seems to me that our world and our experiences are a bit more global now than they were and so it loses a bit of the novelty factor, at least for me and for my non-Jewish but always inquisitive children. Children who enjoy reading about their counterparts in the past will enjoy this series of vignettes and will probably get some good imagination exercising in as they put themselves in the place of these sweet, sunny little girls. Adults may find the excessive cheer and always happy outcomes a bit much but it will appeal to them too if they want an hour or so of sheer, unsullied escapism.


  1. Well, I found it a bit depressing that the dad was so desperate for a boy.

    Some of the later ones have a plot, mostly centering on the oldest daughter.

  2. Another participant read this book and found it a little dated. I have a copy here that I'll eventually get around to! I'm curious to see what my 10 year old thinks.

  3. I loved these books, and whenever I've had a chance to reread a chapter or two, always enjoy the cheerful vignette factor. I feel like kids' books today are focused on a single desire-line, a single plot moving forward, and indeed, getting my MFA in kidlit, that's mostly what was emphasized. But I loved, and think today's kids still love, that episodic quality in which the joy is just about navigating the small bumps of life.

  4. Oooh, I loved this book as a child. I was first exposed to it when we read it aloud at school, and I loved it so much I read all the sequels. Interesting to hear your thoughts!

  5. I enjoyed them as a child, but was disturbed by how desperate the father was for a son.


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