The classic All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, illus. by Helen John (1951), starring five sisters living in New York's Lower East Side at the beginning of the 20th century, is now available to a new generation of readers. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
First released in the 1950s, this story of a family takes readers back to the time before World War I. The everyday activities, dramas, trials, and joys of ordinary Americans are told through the eyes of this New York family of girls. Modern readers might have a bit of trouble relating to the fear and devastation associated with a lost library book, but perhaps they can imagine their own response to losing a borrowed PDA or laptop. In addition, today's readers, who have been raised on a steady diet of politically correct literature, might be troubled by descriptions that border on stereotype--like that of "Joe, a swarthy Italian," who speaks in a contrived dialect: "Mucha rain! Bah! No gooda for business!" Still, the themes of family, love, and loyalty ring true through Taylor's clear description of the family members, and the importance of making the most of everyday decisions is emphasized. The girls feel they understand their world and their place in it, but they learn they can't prepare themselves for every surprise that life has in store. This edition includes an "Introduction" by Francine Prose, who calls the novel "a hymn . . . to the ordinary pleasures of daily life." 2005 (orig. 1951), Delacorte Press, Ages 8 to 12.
Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Five young sisters experience life in New York's Lower East Side at the beginning of the 20th century in this reading of Sydney Taylor's story (Follett, 1951). The close-knit group encounters everyday realities such as boring chores, missing library books, and trips to the Rivington Street market, as well as those details which bring the early 1900's to life--scarlet fever, peddlers, and bathing at Coney Island. Woven into the story are the traditions and holidays of the Jewish religion. The girls celebrate the Sabbath with Hebrew prayers, and dress up for Purim so they can deliver baskets to friends and relatives. Suzanne Toren delivers flawless narration, using different accents to distinguish between characters of various cultures and backgrounds. Her intonations and pacing ably reflect the actions and emotions of the characters and fully convey the warmth and humor of the story. This excellent audiobook will find an eager audience in schools and public libraries which need materials reflecting the Jewish culture or serve children who enjoy family stories such as Little Women and Little House on the Prairie.-Paula L. Setser, Deep Springs Elementary School, Lexington, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Childrens Book Watch
Set in the beginning of the twentieth century in New York's Lower East Side, All-Of-A-Kind Family introduces five young sisters (Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie). We follow along as they search for hidden buttons while dusting Mama's front parlor, explore the basement warehouse of Papa's peddler's shop on rainy days; and simply enjoy doing everything together -- especially when it involves holidays and surprises. But they are not prepared when confronted with the biggest surprise of their life! All-Of-A-Kind Family is a lively, superbly narrated, four hour, highly recommended, unabridged recording of a thoroughly delightful, totally engaging, fun story that will leave the young (and not so young!) listener with a true and memorable "theater of the mind" satisfaction.
The Providence Journal
Here's a book in which nothing much happens, over the course of four
hours... and which absolutely charmed my kids on a recent family car
It's the story of a family on the Lower East Side of New York at the
turn of the 20th century. There are five daughters, plus Mama and Papa,
and their adventures are simple -- they go to Coney Island on a hot day, or
to the library or to the market. They dust the house and get sick.
But the market they go to is alive with sounds and smells of a different
time, and when scarlet fever strikes there's no simple trip to the
doctor's for a few antibiotics ---the doctor comes to them and places the
house under quarantine for weeks. There's a plot involving two family
friends and their problems with love, but it's the least believable and
sappiest part of the story. Much better are the moments when the family
celebrates Jewish holidays, each described with loving care as it was
celebrated a century ago.
Taylor wrote the book in 1951, based on her childhood memories and it
was out of print for some years before being issued last year. The time
between her experiences and the recounting of them undoubtedly colored
the stories with sentimentality.
But this is a gentle tale of a very different time, and there's value to
that. Toren, a theater and TV actress, reads with an attention to
accent that helps create characters from the daughters and those who
New York Times Book Review
Chicago Sunday Tribune
Warmly related from the author's own childhood memories.