Meet the All-of-a-Kind Family -- Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie -- who live with their parents in New York City at the turn of the century. Together they share adventures that find them searching for hidden buttons while dusting Mama's front parlor and visiting with the peddlers in Papa's shop on rainy days. The 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! (Amazon)
Review by Debbie, who has one sister and one brother
All-of-a-Kind Family is the first of a series that was one of my favorites when I was little. Actually, it is still one of my favorites. Like Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, Betsy-Tacy, even Ramona Quimby, this is a series that brings you into the everyday life of a family. There are no dragons to be slain, no governments to be overthrown, no worlds to be saved – just regular fears to be conquered, misunderstandings to be sorted through, and sisters to support through hard times. Don’t get me wrong; I like the other kinds of books too, but sometimes I want something more quiet and comforting. Oh, and the illustrations by Mary Stevens are fantastic.
There are five sisters (and eventually one brother) in this all-of-a-kind family. (It has only just occurred to me that I don’t know the family’s last name.) Ella is the responsible eldest with a gift for music, Henny is the mischievous one with natural curls her sisters envy, Sarah is the quiet middle child, Charlotte is the imaginative sister, and Gertie is the baby until Baby Charlie is born. It’s the 1910s, and the girls live with their parents in a small apartment in a Jewish neighborhood on the Lower East Side of New York City. For several years, most of what I knew about Jewish holidays, especially the ones that weren’t Passover or Hannukah, I learned from these books.
Sydney Taylor makes not only holidays but everyday events fun to read about. In this book, she even makes dusting fun. Understandably, the sisters don’t like the dusting-the-front-room chore. But one day, Mama hides 12 buttons in the room, and you go with Sarah through the room, looking under tables, in the woodwork, inside knickknacks for the buttons, and you are as delighted as she is as she finds each one.
Another of my favorite chapters is when Charlotte and Gertie spend their after-lunch pennies on candy and crackers, which they stealthily sneak into their bed so they can eat them later without Mama knowing. That night, Charlotte makes up games to play to determine how each piece should be eaten. I wish I’d thought of that when my sister and I were little! Although my mother would not have appreciated it so much.
Market: Middle Grade
Mature themes: None to speak of
Amazon is out of stock, but I found several ebay listings for this book, and they are cheap "Buy it Now" prices, and many with free shipping!
(and there are many more . . . )