All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown (All-of-a-Kind-Family, #4) By Sydney Taylor

From the hilarious opening chapter to the triumphant final one, All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown draws the reader in, involving her once again in the lives of the eponymous All-of-a-Kind Family (surname: unknown). Having now moved to the leafier Bronx, the family are just beginning to find their way around, and the girls set out at the beginning of the book, together with little Charlie, to visit their Aunt Lena in her apartment, a few blocks away. Being unfamiliar with the way floors are reckoned in this new place, they make a mistake, one that is at first embarrassing, but that also leads to laughter, and to the making of a new friend. No sooner is this adventure over, than a more serious one arises: Mama must be taken to the hospital, in order to have her appendix out, and the girls (Ella in charge) must cope with running a house on their own. Ella's beau Jules, introduced in More All-of-a-Kind Family, returns here, and enlists in the US Army, shipping off to Europe to fight in World War I. Jewish holidays and customs - keeping the Sabbath, the P'Idyon Ha-Ben ceremony - still play a central role in the girls' lives, but their horizons expand in this new home, and they have new Christian friends, in the form of the Irish-American Healy family, who live downstairs from them. The book closes with the return of the soldiers from World War I, and their triumphant march through New York City...

Although there seems to be some disagreement, regarding the correct order of Sydney Taylor's series, given that the fourth book to be published, All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown, chronicles events occurring between All-of-a-Kind Family and More All-of-a-Kind Family, I have always considered this book, All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown, to be the third one in the series, rather than the fourth. Leaving that issue aside, this is one that is every bit as delightful as its predecessors, with a story that swings effortlessly from hilarity to pathos, chronicling the ups and downs in the life of one Jewish family, residing in New York City in the early years of the twentieth century. It was interesting to see the girls getting older, with Ella's romance becoming more serious, and Sarah struggling so to win her history prize. As a young girl, I found the romances between Ella and Jules, and Grace Healy and Bill, very compelling stuff, and I cannot read the chapter where the four young people ride around New York City on a double-decker bus, singing songs that eventually involve all the riders in an impromptu concert, without smiling in delight. Similarly, I cannot read the scene in which Ella and Jules are parted, or the one in which Bill is declared missing in action, without getting a shiver. Taylor has a light touch here, and one never feels overwhelmed with despair, but she definitely is as capable of evoking sadness and fear in her readers, as she is good humor and happiness. Highly, highly recommended, to all those readers that have read the earlier two stories about this family, with the further recommendation that, if you are not one of those readers... what are you waiting for?!? Sydney Taylor Raise your hand if you’re experiencing 2020 burnout! I thought so. I hit the wall about a month ago and am plodding along to the end of the year. Yesterday was a crisp, fall day where in synagogues everywhere in the world, we blessed the arrival of the month of Kislev. Kislev means Chanukah and that means miracles and light. I am beyond excited for Chanukah this year because I need something bright in my life even if it is only for eight days and nights. Last year on Chanukah I treated myself to the set of All of a Kind Family books by Sydney Taylor. They are the literally the books of my childhood, and I have been reading through them to bring a smile to my face.

All of a Kind Family was the first chapter book I read on my own. I want to pinpoint the date but I had to have been between six and eight. The original book came out when my mom was six and she grew up reading the series as well and passed the joy of it on to me. This series is about the daughters of Jewish immigrants from Germany and is the story of author Sydney Taylor’s family. Five girls all two years apart in age grow up in the tenements of the Lower East Side. The father runs a junk shop and the mother keeps an impeccable house that Jewish mothers of today would be envious of. Although poor, the family never lacked and the girls made up their own adventures and memories, so even in tough times, they never realized that they lacked for anything. Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie, a steps and stairs family that I grew up wishing I could be a part of.

In Uptown, the fourth book in the series, the family moves to the Bronx. Papa’s junk shop has been successful and he desires to move the family to better surroundings. The family purchases a seven room flat, sharing a home with their downstairs neighbors the Healys. Uncle Hyman and Aunt Lena move a few blocks away so the family remains close, and many other aunts and uncles get the idea to move from the tenements to the Bronx. The United States had been good to this wave of Jewish immigrants escaping from the revolutions and uncertainties in Eastern Europe, and now they could truly call themselves Americans. In this installment, Ella is nearly seventeen and preparing to graduate from high school. Her beau Jules enlists in the army, and this becomes a central storyline of the book. Although Taylor told most of the story through middle sister Sarah’s eyes, I could always relate the most to Ella- oldest daughter, loves being Jewish and teaches Sunday school, beautiful voice. As the oldest, she has more stories as her role is no longer completely centered on the family. This role becomes clearer toward the end of the book, and Taylor had this in mind as well as the last installment of the series is about Ella and how she intends to make her way in the world.

In the Bronx, Henny finds new ways to get into mischief although she happens to be the best at taking care of youngest brother Charlie. Sarah remains the model student, and Charlotte and Gertie are dutiful daughters who look to have bright futures. The Healy family have one daughter Grace who is the same age as Ella, and the girls become close friends, showing how people of different religions can get along when focusing on similarities rather than differences. Taylor teaches Jewish customs to her non Jewish readers through the Healys’ eyes in a way that younger girls can understand. Even one as now well versed as myself can appreciate the care it took to explain traditions to non Jews without treading on anyone’s toes. Even after many a reading these books remain the favorites they were in my youth.

With 2020 coming to a merciful end soon, I am all too happy to reread favorite books. There is no better feeling than curling up with a book I know the ending to and read about the adventures that I spent many hours with growing up. I only have one installment of the stories of Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie left to read and I’m sure it will be my swan song to this year that can not end soon enough. Of course, that means that I will have to start the series and read it again as the girls’ stories invoke all of my childhood memories. My only regret is that Sydney Taylor did not continue the series with more stories about these girls as they navigated what it meant to be a Jewish American into adulthood and a new generation of children, both their own and the ones reading these wonderful books.

✨ 5 stars ✨ Sydney Taylor I think this one might be the best of the series. Sydney Taylor I loved being back with this family.

Hilarious first chapter!

Henny grew on me a bit in this book because she’s the one who’s so good with youngest sibling and only brother Charlie. It’s always been Sarah & Ella and Charlotte & Gertie and now I feel as though Henny has a pairing too. Also, I admired Henny’s role in the play and her ability to work with others and help implement original ideas.

It was fun to watch the kids grow up. I’m still particularly fond of Sarah, and of Ella, but all the daughters had a bit of the spotlight in this book.

I’m still deciding whether or not to read the Downtown and Ella books. I’ve loved the original, More, and this Uptown so much, and I’ve been told the other two have a different writing style. They were written long after the three I’ve read. Some people have recommended I skip them; others have encouraged me to read them. If I do read the remaining two books, it’s likely that it won’t be in the near future.

In this book, I learned a bit about what the WWI era was like in NYC.

As with the other books in this series, this book would make for a perfect family (or classroom) and/or bedtime read aloud. Each chapter works wonderfully on its own, as a short story, while at the same time contributing to the novel as a whole. Sydney Taylor Sometimes, when I re-read a book, I find new insights and understandings, almost as if I'm reading the same book for the first time. Sometimes, re-reading is like coming home, noticing all the familiar sights and sounds and smells, and smiling at the familiarity. Such was this re-read, a true balm for the soul. Sydney Taylor

Based on the author's family and childhood, these charming books capture the everyday life of a home with little money but lots of love and good times to share. Each book shares the ups and downs in the lives of this special family, through the eyes of Ella, Charlotte, Henny, Sarah, Gertie, and their little brother, Charlie. All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown (All-of-a-Kind-Family, #4)

A little more twee and a lot less unified than the other entries into this series (I haven't read the last one yet), but still an enjoyable read. Interesting view of the First World War. Sydney Taylor I don't usually like series. Although I might love the characters, I find myself getting generally bored with the various plots, often mundane or regurgitated, that the author tries concocting to keep the books coming. Not so with this series! I love, love it!

The fourth book is just as wonderful, people!

Ages: 9 - 13

Children's Bad Words
Mild Obscenities & Substitutions - 1 Incident: stupid
Name Calling - 2 Incidents: stupid, rascal
Religious Profanities - 18 Incidents: Gee, goodness, Good gracious, Gosh, Thank heavens, Heaven knows, For heaven’s sake, Gee willikers, For goodness sake

Religious & Supernatural - 1 Incident: A father tells his son about the good and bad Sabbath angels.

Attitudes/Disobedience - 2 Incidents: A girl takes her sister’s dress without permission and learns a lesson. A girl is tempted to be dishonest and keep a nickel but she does the right thing.

Romance Related - 7 Incidents: There is boy and girl “romantic” interaction throughout the book. They hang out in groups, go dancing, etc. A main character is going steady with a boy, but it is told more matter-of-fact than mushy. A boy and girl go on a date. They stroll hand in hand, he squeezes her arm, they link arms. At the end of the date, he kisses her on the cheek (illustration too). A boy and girl hug. People go on a double date: “The couples snuggled czily on the benches just big enough for two.” “She shivered. Jule’s arm tightened around her shoulder.” Ella leaned her head on Jule’s shoulder and another boy and girl entwine fingers. A father teases that he’ll have to give up smoking to save for a dowry. Breast pocket.

Conversation Topics - 2 Incidents: Mentions wine. Santa Claus is mentioned in one chapter briefly.

Parent Takeaway
A sweet story about a loving family and how the father and mother purposefully run their home. They are devout Jews so the mention and explanation of their celebrations and feasts is part of the story. The narration includes comments in the style of, Henny knew she was being naughty and felt bad afterwards. There is always conclusions to wrong behaviors. There is dating and dancing in the book. The boy/girl mentions are not fantasized or lengthy.

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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! Sydney Taylor More classic stories! I laughed out loud when Charlie thought Santa Claus was the boogeyman. I had so much empathy for Sarah when she didn’t receive the award she worked so hard for -much personal experience there!😆 And I love Henny’s open and honest responses and sharing of her thoughts. I imagine myself as her when I was growing up. Some serious storylines as WWI has started. Sydney Taylor ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY UPTOWN finds the family settles into their new house. Mama has surgery and Ella and her sisters manage the house with some help from their family and friends. Ella’s relationship with Jules faces challenges when he enlists to fight in WWI.

I enjoyed ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY UPTOWN more than the other books as the sisters age and interact with more people outside of the family, including their first friends who aren’t Jewish. They see a Christmas tree for the first time and introduce their christian friends to Jewish traditions.

If I knew a young MG reader, I’d get her all of Sydney Taylor’s ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY books. Sydney Taylor Such a lovely visit with this family. Each character is unique, different, special. Ella has really grown up. Henny, well let's just say she still has some growing to do. And Sarah, Charlotte, Gertie, and of course, Charlie.
I enjoy the fact that they share different Jewish holidays in these books, not just the same ones over and over. They'll mention the others, but will dwell more on the new ones. This story takes place during WWI, so that's an added plus.

Enjoyable and recommended. Sydney Taylor

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