All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2019-09-11 
Review Score: 3 out of 5 star From 11 user ratings

"The first night of Hanukkah finds Gertie left out of most everything, but eventually all becomes settled when she gets to do the "best thing", light the first candle on the first night of Hanukkah. If you have loved these books far in the past, you will love this return by Emily Jenkins and shown with happiness and love by Paul O. Zelinsky. If you don't know them, it's time to discover Sydney Taylor's stories from New York City’s Lower East Side in the early part of the twentieh century.
Kirkus writes: "Writing with the support of the Sydney Taylor Foundation, Jenkins expertly captures the warm family spirit of the classic books and their time for a new generation of readers. Zelinsky’s digital artwork brilliantly evokes the crowded but cozy tenement world of the early 20th century, while his use of perspective lovingly draws readers into the drama."
It can be a story good for all year long. There is a glossary, an author’s and illustrator’s note, a link to a latke recipe, and source notes. I visited the Tenement Museum in NYC one time with my students and it was a wonderful experience, especially since I had read some of these books with students.
" said.

"I loved the artwork!

As for the story, I have a sneaking suspicion that parents in 1912, especially in poor families, had many more creative ideas about how to put a four-year-old to use in the kitchen when preparing for a holiday meal. For example, polishing the candelabra is an obvious one, or squeezing the water out of the potatoes. Honestly, it makes the mama seem a bit dense that she doesn't realize until Gertie stomps her feet that she wants to help but is being stymied - and that she can't hear a child express emotion without needing to be sent to her room.

Nevertheless, most children nowadays will expect that their parents won't understand what they can and can't help with, and will set arbitrary behavior limits on whining and stomping even when the parents easily could have avoided that frustration.

I guess I'm feeling disappointed that the author didn't use this opportunity to remind people that children of all ages are capable of helping do something, and knowing that innately is something people were better at in the olden days.

And I also get the impression that in 1912, the celebration of Hanukkah was a fledgling endeavor, much like Kwanzaa in the 1960s. A sort of semi-created, semi-resuscitated tradition. I can't figure out in which chapter book by Sydney Taylor (if any) the family celebrated Hanukkah...I only re-read the first book, and it's definitely not in there...Does anybody else remember?

So, for a couple of reasons, this story will make more sense now than it would have in 1912. It's worth having in your library, even if it could have been better.
" said.

"Text to text-All of a Kind Family Hanukkah reminds me of the book, The Night Before Hanukkah. Both books incorporate educational knowledge of Hanukkah traditions while telling a story. In All of a Kind Family Hanukkah, Gertie is a small child who just wants to help cool traditional food for Hanukkah but she is too small. At the end, Papa says, "Are you old enough to light the menorah and the shammash?" (candle) Gertie says, "I am, Papa, I am!" In both books, two families celebrate Hanukkah and the stories are told through the eyes of two little girls. One in each story. Food such as Latkes (Potato Pancakes) and gelt (chocolate) are referred.

Text to the World-All of a Kind Family Hanukkah is relatable to the real world because the holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated by a large population of people. It is also beneficial to society that we enrich ourselves and step out of our own comfort zones to learn about a holiday (religion) of somebody else. In the book we learn about traditional food served for Hanukkah. "We'll have latkes tonight, " says Gertie's sister Sarah, "With applesauce." We also learn about lighting the menorah. "When Papa comes home, "says Sarah, "we'll light then shamash and then the first candle on the menorah."

Text to self- This book is different than my traditions of Christmas and my religion of Christianity. Gertie knows about the food of Hanukkah. "Gertie knows about latkes; but doesn't remember how they taste. Momma makes the potato pancakes on Hanukkah." For Christmas in my family, we usually have turkey or ham with potatoes and gravy. Gertie has chicken, potato pancakes, and applesauce.

Jenkins, Emily (2018) All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah. New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade Books.
Wing, Natasha (2014) The Night Before Hanukkah. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap.
" said.

"Based on the series by Sydney Taylor, this new picture book gives a warm look at a beloved family celebrating Hanukkah. Set in New York City in 1912, both fans and new readers alike will find themselves immersed in this family of five girls, all of a kind. Gertie, the youngest of the five girls, knows about latkes but can’t remember what they taste like since Mama only makes them on Hanukkah. All of the girls help Mama make the meal except for Gertie who is too little to help. The potato peeler is too sharp, the onions make you cry, the shredder is even sharper than the peeler, and the grease in the pan could burn. When Gertie discovers there isn’t a job she can do, she throws a tantrum and is sent to her room. It isn’t until Papa comes home that Gertie gets her own special job, lighting the menorah’s first candle.

I adored this series as a child, loving the depiction of an immigrant family. I’m so pleased to see it return in a new format that brings the stories to a new generation in need of positive immigrant tales. As always, this family is filled with warmth and the picture book just like the series focuses on small moments in a family’s life that speak to their values, their deep love for one another, and their customs. The writing here is deft and focused just right for the picture book format without losing any of that special “All-of-a-Kind” feeling.

Zelinsky’s illustrations carry that same warm feeling. Done in rich colors, the pages are full of the bustling family working together in the kitchen. Even Gertie’s time alone in the bedroom under the bed has warm wood tones. The final pages of the book are all the more rich and warm as the family comes together for the meal with the lit menorah.

Exactly what our world needs right now, a celebration of immigrants and faith. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
" said.

"As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp: 

For those unfamiliar with the Jewish faith, this is an excellent introduction to one of its biggest holidays.  The most I knew about Hanukkah was from watching the 1959 film, The Diary of Anne Frank.  I don't think the title does it justice (Gertie's Hanukkah would've been a better title and made a lot more sense), but the illustrations worked (as the illustrator said, she kept them rough—like potato latkes); they reminded me a lot of Mercer Mayer’s (of Little Critter fame).  These earth-toned sketches fit the impoverished setting (life was hard if you lived in a tenement; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn came to mind, except the family was Irish rather than Jewish).

The title page is nice, but more NYC background throughout the book would’ve been great.  I have noticed in many children's books that maps are sometimes printed inside the covers—I think that should've been done in this one, which would’ve added another teaching tool.

The story is simple and relatable—younger girl wants to do what the older girls are doing, which the youngest of any family could relate to. My daughter loved the page where all the girls are cooking—it is something she is quite familiar with.  All the illustrations should’ve stuck with a double-page spread layout.

Though this is set in the era of "children are seen not heard," the mother—who appears authoritarian and much more masculine than her husband—should've tried to find something for Gertie to do—telling her child to look at a book or go play, rejecting her when she actually WANTS to help, was not nurturing at all.  Children want to feel included, not be exiled. Besides, Gertie can hear her sisters having fun while she is banished to her bedroom as punishment.  How was that supposed to make Gertie feel? A lot of things take longer with kids, but when they want to help, let them, because the time will come when they won’t be offering.  

But, Gertie’s dad understands and lets her have the job of lighting the menorah (with his help); the picture of him holding Gertie to light the candle was my favorite. 

I liked that a glossary was included but rather than putting it in the back, there should’ve been footnotes at the bottom of the page, as flipping back and forth disrupts the story. 

The deal with the dad asking Gertie's pillow and library book where she was was odd—if you're going to ask an inanimate object, ask a doll or stuffed animal—something with a face. 

I'm glad the author just stated that the blessings were done in Hebrew rather than including them.  I've never liked other languages (other than the occasional word, accompanied with a context clue) embedded in the story as they detract from the story; I often end up skipping over them anyway.

The last picture is heartwarming—I loved looking through their window, watching this large family sit around a table, enjoying a holiday meal.  I got the impression that the mother offered Gertie the first latke as a consolation prize/peace offering, which was her way of saying sorry without admitting she was wrong. 

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah is the kind of book I like just enough to read around that time of the year.  

Suggested activity:  It is interesting to note that many miracles have to do with increase (i.e. making something last longer or increase in number).  Whether or not you're spiritual or religious, show how being thankful can make what you have seem like more than you have, as it takes the focus off what you don't have.  Have your child write down (or say) what they are grateful for—a reverse holiday wish list. You can even make a game of it by making it less serious (e.g. I'm thankful for the letter X because it gets me a lot of points in Scrabble).  Watch some of Jimmy Fallon's "Thank you notes" for ideas.
" said.

" I loved these books as a child. This is a worthy addition to the series. I really liked this story of a family's busy preparations for their Hanukkah celebration. It seemed that Mama was particularly stressed during this story for some reason, but she could have found something simple for Gertie to do. But Papa saves the day by letting her help him. I loved Zelinsky's illustrations, with all the details of life in the early 1900s. " said.

"First sentence: When darkness comes, it will be the first night of Hanukkah, 1912.

Premise/plot: This new picture book stars Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind family. It is set in New York City in 1912 during Hanukkah. It is told from the perspective of the youngest sister, Gertie.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. It has been years since I read the All-of-a-Kind family series. I remember reading them as a kid. And I have definitely reread the first book since I've started blogging. Reading this picture book makes me want to reread them all. I loved "meeting" the family again. I loved the historical setting. I loved the focus on family and faith.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10
" said.

"This picture book extends the classic ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY novel series into a charmingly specific holiday celebration event. The historic context and Hanukkah preparations are so thorough and engaging that readers need not be familiar with either the foundational characters and stories nor the customs of Hanukkah celebrations. This flowing language and the loose-but specific illustrations serve the story of a youngest child struggling to participate and help, but unable to do either because she is still too small.
The role of the father adds humor and expands the loving nature of the family as a whole.
" said.

October 2019 New Book:

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