Wednesday, October 10, 2018

#WNDB Wednesday: All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah

The pressing question is this: Why is the Sydney Taylor All-of-a-Kind Family series not available in a nice, new hardcover editions with original illustrations? The books were published in the 1950s, with a book about Ella coming out in 1978, so chances are VERY good that any and all library copies in existence now are pretty nasty. I recently deaccessioned a thirty year old PermaBound edition of book three, which was all my library had.

This new picture book would be a great introduction to the series, but chances are not good that anyone can FIND the original books anywhere!

Jenkins, Emily and Zelinsky, Paul O. All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah
September 11th 2018 by Schwartz & Wade Books
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

It's Hanukkah on New York's Lower East Side in 1912. Young Gertie, who is four, is very excited about all of the preparations that her parents and four older sisters are making. Making latkes is especially intriguing, since they are made only once a year. Gertie wants to help, but the others tell her it is too dangerous and she should read her library books instead of trying to help out. Angry, she goes to the next room to hide, thinking they will be sorry they ignored her, but no one comes. Eventually, Papa comes looking for her and takes her out to the family celebration to eat the delicious latkes.

This simple story is a good introduction to the classic Sydney Taylor All-of-a-Kind Family (1951) middle grade books, which were some of the first books about Jewish children that reached a main stream audience. Today, there is a Sydney Taylor book award for contributions to Jewish children's literature. These books showcased the daily life and celebrations of a family in an immigrant neighborhood in New York City in the early 1900s and were some of my favorites when I was young-- they were sort of the equivalent of The Brady Bunch when it came to positive and fun depictions of a large family.

The story is simple and easy to follow, and the notes at the back are helpful in understanding so of the concepts of the time, as well as the history of the series. Zelinsy's drawings, while vastly different from the Joe and Beth Krush illustrations in the original books with all of their fine-line details, depict the era well. The family's apartment is clearly laid out, and made sense for the first time to me-- of course it was just two rooms! The colors are happy, and the sense of movement and joy comes through the rough outlined shapes.

All-of-a-Kind Hanukkah is a great addition to a collection of holiday books, and also a good way to develop an interest in a classic series. Give this one to readers who love Little House on the Prairie early reader novels, American Girl books, or historical fiction picture books.


  1. I remember my fifth grade teacher reading the series to us (or, at least, the first couple of books) and how very much we all enjoyed them. I requested a copy of this book and looked to see if our library system has any copies of the series. We have plenty of physical copies of the first book (from a 1989 edition) as well as ebook and eaudio copies. All the other books in our system are ebooks or eaudiuobooks. Our system tends to keep copies of older books that are not perennial favorites like Little House as ebooks.

  2. Is this a new book? I thought I read this entire series but I don't remember this one!