All-of-a-kind family / by Sydney Taylor.
Taylor, S. (1951). All-of-a-kind family. New York, NY: Follett Publishing Company.
This book is about the daily lives and adventures of a Jewish family living in tenement housing in New York City’s East End at the beginning of the 20th century. The family includes 5 stair-step girls all two years apart, who all share one room in their small house. While you can tell time is passing as you read the chapters, they do not necessarily build on each other. Each chapter focuses on a different event or Jewish holiday.
This book, while the main characters are all girls, would be a good resource for giving children an idea of what life was like for poor families living in New York at the beginning of the 20th century. The details are descriptive and can help paint a picture in the readers mind even though there are very few pictures in the book. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the market, Coney Island and how the girls contemplated how to spend their pennies. As a non-Jewish reader, I found the information about how this family celebrated Jewish holidays and traditions like the Sabbath, Purim Day and Succos.
Library Use Suggestions:
I would pull out sections of this book that have excellent description of details to use as examples of how good authors used words to paint pictures. I would have students close their eyes and listen to the description and then give them the opportunity to illustrate what they think it looked like.
Along the same lines, I would use the descriptive details to help with a writing lesson. After reading, I would ask the students what words they could use to paint a picture of the school library for someone who had never been there.
I may also use this book to discuss money and how the cost of buying things is different today than it was a hundred years ago. I would ask questions such as: If each girl got a penny a day, how many pennies would they have in one week? What are things they spent their pennies on? Could you buy the same things with pennies?
The Charles W. Follett Award series stepped off to a sprightly start last year with Carol Hoff's Johnny Texas and this season's offering again features authentic period and regional flavor plus expansive and attractive format, in a loving family story set in 1912 on the lower East Side of New York City. Five little girls in one family supply in lively activities and affection what may be lacking in worldly goods to the close-knit Jewish household in the days of immigrant poverty and hard-ships, and this story chronicles the activities of the family -- hated household choring which Mama made fun; the cherished religious holidays -- including a Seder celebrated by Papa, Mama, and one daughter, while four scarlet fever patients participated wistfully in the bedroom; a wonderful Fourth of July with real fireworks; an outing to Coney Island; a furious hunger strike by one of the more willful daughters which plunges the family into misery; a pushcart-street shopping expedition; and even a small mystery-romance. Although the author's nostalgia for times past weighs heavily now and then to point the story adultward, this is a honey, gentle book, tailor-made for little girls.
(1951, June 15). [Review of All-of-a-kind family]. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/sydney-taylor/all-of-a-kind-family/