All-of-a-Kind Family Book reviews


Author(s): Sydney TaylorDownload  


It’s the turn of the century in New York’s Lower East Side and a sense of adventure and excitement abounds for five young sisters – Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie. Follow along as they search for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor, or explore the basement warehouse of Papa’s peddler’s shop on rainy days. The five girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises. But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all!

Some Reviews: 1044 in


Manybooks rated it      

A heart-warming, gently humorous and informative family story, and my one main regret is that I have only recently discovered Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family and its sequels. Wonderful, delightful episodes show the joys, the struggles and the close family and neighbourhood ties of a Jewish-American family in early 20th century New York City. I love how the different Jewish holidays, how Jewish cultural and religious traditions are depicted and shown throughout the story, informatively, but with no hint of didacticism. And I especially appreciate how the all-of-a-kind family also shares their traditions with friends who are not Jewish, specifically Charlie and the Library Lady, who actually end up rekindling, rediscovering their romance, which had been thwarted by Charlie’s bigoted and judgmental parents. In today’s world, where multiculturalism, where different cultures are again so often under attack and scrutiny, All-of-a-Kind Family clerly and lovingly demonstrates that different cultures can not only exist and peacefully coexist in a country, in a city, in a neighbourhood, but that these different cultures can be and should be shared, that sharing one’s cultural heritage leads to tolerance and increasing understanding (and that even though we might have different cultural and religious traditions, we are basically all quite similar in many ways). Recommended for anyone (both children and adults) who enjoys warm family tales, as well as anyone interested in learning about Jewish-American culture and traditions.

Wendy Darling

Wendy Darling rated it      

This is a series I reread every year. No one else has ever captured the early 1900’s in the Jewish lower side of New York like this, and it’s fascinating to read about the holidays and customs and everyday life that this little troop of girls experiences. I still wish I could walk through those streets teeming with peddlers selling big dill pickles, candied orange slices, and spiced chick peas!

These books are great for those who love old-fashioned stories about growing up, like the Little House, Ginnie and Geneva, Betsy-Tacy, Moffats, or Beverly Cleary books. These authors understood that everyday life at home and in school held wonderful adventures and mysteries all their own.


Deyanne rated it     

I love to read good children’s literature and this book of a bygone era (1912) was informative and charming. I was hoping this might be the book I would choose to read with my grade-school grandchildren this summer, but I am not sure if it would meet the diverse needs. I loved the family solidarity and I particularly enjoyed the traditional religious observances. If I do choose this for the summer, I would look for a book on Jewish traditions with pictures to share with the children. I would like them to have a broader understanding of different cultures, places and even times.

Yesterday while tending two grandchildren ages almost four and six, I read them the first two chapters of this book. They were very engaged with the first chapter and couldn’t understand how children could not own their own books. The little girl, six, loved the second chapter with bright buttons and dusting, but her brother left in the middle to find toys. What a nice teaching tool it provided for us to talk about the value of a penny and that a family could be happy even if they were not affluent.

Now it goes to a granddaughter age nine who will read it to her six year old sister. It is definitely worth sharing, and I will be very interested in their response. Will all of the religious observances and the different food be too much? Who knows?

Thanks to Brina for suggesting it and to Beth for helping me to find a copy.


Hilary rated it      

I am so suprised this book (appears to me ) to be unheard of in the UK. It took some trouble and cost quite a lot finding a copy, but so glad we did.

A beautiful book describing daily life of a close Jewish immigrant family. We loved the adventures of these sisters. Having lived in Israel, the descriptions of Jewish festivals brought back happy memories of time spent with friends. The descriptions of the festivals and their meaning for the family, illustrates how humans seem to benefit from rituals celebrating points throughout the year, and how beneficial they are whether made up or from religious reasons.

We liked the day to day details of games played, food eaten etc. We marvelled at how the fire engine was pulled by horses.

We found it confusing how poverty was assessed. Nobody they knew could afford to own a book, something we all take for granted these days. But they owned a piano and it seems that several of the girls had lessons. We have to run a stall selling vegetables to raise money for music lessons. Perhaps they cost less in comparison a hundred years ago.

We found it fascinating that although written over a century ago there is still much of the story that would be the same if it were written today.

My daughter said it would be in her top 5 books of all time.


Kathryn rated it      

Charming, sweet, heartwarming and thoughtful! This entire series is a gem. The family is so sweet, so tight-knit. While the book is a pure pleasure to read simply because you will love the family so much, it’s also interesting from a historical/social standpoint to read about early 1900s America and this Jewish family’s experience. UPDATE 10/2019: Rereading this for the first time as a mother, and sharing it with my oldest (six-years-old) was a wonderful experience. My love for this story only deepens now that I can more fully appreciate Mama’s perspective, and admire all the more her patience and ingenuity and the wisdom and love she gives to her girls. Moreover, it was a delight seeing my son engage with the story. While a few aspects were a bit beyond him (particularly the bits focusing on Ella and her crush on Charlie) he really engaged with some of the segments, such as the hidden penny housecleaning game (ah, Mama, you clever one!) and the children pooling their money to buy Papa a birthday present, and building the Succah. I cannot recommend this highly enough! If you have loved other books about loving families in bygone eras, don’t miss it!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here