A Papa Like Everyone Else By Sydney Taylor

Szerena and Gisella are two little girls who live with their mother on a farm in Czechoslovakia during World War I. Their father has gone to America, and they are waiting for him to earn enough money so they can join him. Five years pass until the day finally arrives! A Papa Like Everyone Else



I didn't know this book existed, until I stumbled across it at Powell's. I think it's basically All Of A Kind Family, before they left the Old Country.
Update: The AOAKF series is richer and stronger, but this was an interesting, quick read. It's a year or so after WWI, and Mama and her two daughters are living on a small farm in Czechoslovakia (the part that used to be Hungary). Papa is in NYC, saving money to pay for his family's passage. The book covers a year in the village life, with the very poignant departure at the end. Favorite parts were the politically incorrect passages with force-fed geese and Mama insisting her daughters drink beer (to settle their stomachs). 160 3.5⭐️ Had a bit of a hard time keeping my attention but a sweet story. More about their life on a farm waiting to go to America than the actual trip. One instance of the mother giving children beer to “settle their stomachs.” 😝
I liked All of a Kind Family better. 160 A different perspective on the immigration story. A Papa Like Everyone Else portrays the life of two girls and their mother left behind in the old country while Papa went ahead to America. It is a vivid depiction which shares the courage and struggles of the families waiting to join fathers and husbands in America. 160 I give this 2.5 stars.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The All-of-a-Kind Family books and didn’t even know this one existed until I came across it at the bookstore this weekend. Out of the little pile I bought, this was the first book I started.

It was somewhat of a let down.

Even though “Papa” is in the title, he’s hardly in the book. He has gone to America to get a job and save money to bring his wife and two daughters over where they can rise above poverty and take advantage of “The Land of Opportunity.”

The story revolves around Mama and the daughters still in Czechoslovakia, and primarily from the perspective of the youngest, Gisella. Who, is quite a brat. She doesn’t like her dad (because he left) and doesn’t want to leave their poor farm to move to America. She doesn’t like doing her chores either, and often doesn’t obey.

Mama and Szerena are very sweet and admirable though; and it was fun learning about the various Jewish/Hungarian/Czech customs and how farming was done back then!

The ending is sweet though, and Gisella recognizes her father’s love and devotion, but boy, she was kind of a slog to get through.

Also, as a side note to the editor: there are a lot of typos in this edition! Several letters were scanned in incorrectly (a number of “h’s” that should have been “b’s” etc.) and then weren’t caught before printing.

Ages: 8+

#Hungary #Czechoslovakia #Passover #MayDay

Cleanliness: mentions a girl being scared of goblins, ghosts and witches (it’s only her imagination). A girl runs outside in only her petticoats - they’re so pretty she wants to show them off. A girl is envious of other’s possessions (see above for other attitudes/behaviors). A mother gives her children beer to settle their stomachs. A boy is struck several times by his teacher. A boy tells of a man who tried to commit suicide by hanging himself - you don’t know whether it’s true or not. There is a house robbery and the mother takes after the robber, thinking he did something to her daughters as she can’t find them. It is somewhat of an intense scene with her frantic and the robber hitting her in order to get away. Nothing happened to the girls (they were not even at home).

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So Follow or Friend me here on GoodReads! And be sure to check out my bio page to learn a little about me and the Picture Book/Chapter Book Calendars I sell on Etsy! 160 As a big fan of the All-of-a-Kind Family series from this author I was excited to learn that she had written one additional book at this same reading level. A Papa Like Everyone Else follows sisters Gisella and Szerena, their mother (aptly called Mama) who live in Czechoslovakia as they wait to have enough money to join Papa in America. Gisella was a baby when her father left and Szerena was a young girl, so he is not a large presence in their daily lives. Most of the book follows their daily lives of celebrations, family life, and small adventures appropriate for early-elementary-aged readers. Even though this book was written long ago it tells age-old lessons of kindness, bravery, and relying on one another. 160

2.5 stars
I found this to be pretty boring. Basically, the family just lives their lives waiting for Papa to send money for them to come join him in America. The voyage at the end and their arrival in New York felt rushed and anticlimactic. If you enjoy reading about daily life in another time and place, I would still recommend this. The details of daily life for a Jewish family on a farm in a rural area of Eastern Europe (what was once Hungary, but has just become part of Czechoslovakia after World War I) and the different chores and celebrations throughout the seasons of the year were interesting. Some of the content is dated but realistic (for example, a schoolteacher taking a switch to a student), but other parts were really problematic. Notably, there's some stereotypical depictions of Romany people (gypsies) as thieves and kidnappers and stigma surrounding mental illness (content warning for mention of a suicide attempt). 160 The book A Papa Like Everyone Else is about a family in Czechoslovakia who the father of which has immigrated to America and is working to bring the family over! I loved this book for all the info and perspective on what it was like for a poor farm family just after WW1. Then towards the end when they leave their community to join their husband/father in NYC; that made me cry so much! I wish this book had a sequel to tell about their adjustment to life in America. 160 Descriptive and intriguing. 160 In the years following World War I a small Jewish family in Czechoslovakia is separated from their Papa. He emigrated to America prior to the war, and between the war, the influenza epidemic and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire, things have held up their reunion. The family identifies as Hungarian but the redrawing of the borders have left them in a new country. It's a interesting glimpse at life in Eastern Europe during that time period, but the stories are brief and the book doesn't hang together well. Furthermore there's very negative depictions of the Roma people, using the g- slur and showing them as dangerous thieves. 160 Gisella and her older sister Szerena, lived with their mother in a small Jewish town in Eastern Europe. Their father had gone to America five years earlier. Gisella didn't remember her father and she was quite happy with the way things were. The girls had a happy childhood but eventually the day came when they could leave for America. Once they were reunited with their father they could be a normal family like everyone else. 160