Sunday, September 28, 2008

All-of-a-Kind Family

All-of-a-Kind Family (Sydney Taylor, 1951) is one of many children's books I didn't discover till adulthood. I read it and its sequels five or six years ago, and I checked it out from the library again last week thinking I would read it to my 4-year-old daughter. I quickly realized I'd misremembered the reading level. It's too advanced and complex for my little girl, who's more at that Bread and Jam for Frances stage. This book, and the Little House series, and Narnia, will have to wait a little while longer.

That said, I enjoyed revisiting it myself. The series has much the same appeal as the Little House books--it's also the story of a close-knit family struggling to get ahead in a tough environment, only in the city instead of the frontier. The titular family is a set of five sisters, Jewish girls growing up on the Lower East Side of New York in the early 20th century. It's based closely on the author's own childhood. As in the Little House books, children reading it would see the girls' lives as a sort of exotic adventure, while an adult can't help but see the poverty and hardship throughout.

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