Sydney Taylor, All-of-a-Kind Family (1951; Dell Yearling, 1989)The Midnight Garden's Classic MG/YA Readalong. I was very glad to finally get to know this beloved account of five girls growing up in a Jewish family on the Lower East Side in the early twentieth century.
Often compared to other period family stories like Little Women and Little House on the Prairie, All-of-a-Kind Family has far less conflict than either. The girls get scarlet fever, but nobody dies; there are no wolves, panthers or bears to menace their cozy home. Each chapter is a small domestic drama centering around incidents that may seem trivial to an adult -- a lost library book, a trip to the beach, a search for a birthday present for Papa -- yet are exactly the kinds of events that loom large in the life of a sheltered child. With her loving descriptions of festivals such as Purim and Passover, and of settings from street markets to Coney Island, Taylor brings us into the heart of a Jewish family with sensitivity and grace, and evokes a vanished way of life that was full of poverty and hardship but also rich in warmth and human connection.