Monday, May 04, 2015

Read Aloud Report :: All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Next up in the read aloud list. We finished The Green Ember last week and read the last 60 or so pages straight through because we couldn't put it down. #readaloudrevival

We just finished our latest read-aloud and it was so good! (I feel like I gush about all our books, but this one really was so! good!) We devoured All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor in a little over a week and it's taking all our willpower not to jump right into the rest of the series right away!

This is the story of a Jewish family living New York City at the turn of the century. Papa and Mama have five daughters - Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie - all two years apart and the reason for the nickname they have given themselves as being an "all of a kind family." The story tells of their simple family life and the pleasures the find in small things and in each other. Papa owns a junk business - he has peddlers that canvas the streets for junk and bring it to his shop so that he can resell it. Money is tight for the family and Papa has to work very hard, but he does it willingly and cheerfully to support his wife and daughters. I loved this look into tender Papa's head and heart when the girls bought him a present for his birthday:
Papa was thinking: So much  money spent on a fancy cup and saucer that I could just as well do without. Haven't we enough cups and saucers in the house now? I have to work so hard to make enough for the necessary things and here they spend money on such a luxury. What if the amount they spent wouldn't help much. It's little spendings like this that add up. 
But right through his thoughts, there floated a little disappointed whimper from Gertie, and Papa suddenly remembered his children. He looked down at the faces, so puzzled and sad now. They had been so gay a moment ago. They were young. It was bad enough that they had to be denied so many things because he couldn't afford them. Must he deny them even this pleasure of giving up their small allowance for a present for him?
Mama was also a delightful character. Her joy was taking care of her home and her children, and the glimpse into the days of a Jewish homemaker was fascinating!
Less than a week and so much had to be done to get ready. Throughout the Festival of Passover, which lasts eight days, no bread or leavened foods may be eaten. In the days just before Passover, Jewish people thoroughly clean their homes to remove all traces of such leaven. Even the pots, pans, and dishes have to be changed. Every religious Jewish household has so much kitchenware that it looks like a store. The family must have two sets of dishes for everyday use: one for dairy products and the other for all meat foods; as well as two sets for Passover, to say nothing of special dishes for company use.
She never complained about the work that she did for her family but did it cheerfully and wholeheartedly. Even when four of the daughters came down with scarlet fever in the days leading up to the Passover, Mama never uttered a word of complaint, but did what needed to be done and cared for her family.
"Scarlet fever!" Mama's heart sank. That meant quarantine and isolation. It meant special diets, probably leavened foods, and they were coming into the Passover holidays. How would she manage it? But none of this dismay was noticeable in either her voice or manner. She seemed calm as always as she lined the children up for their examinations.
We also learned a great bit about Jewish festivals and holidays. As different ones would come up in the course of the story in turn, the author would give a short description of the holiday and explain it's Biblical significance and why and how they celebrated it. (Perfect tie in to the era of history we are reading about right now in Story of the World!)

Really, I can't wait to dive into the next in the series with the kids. We are going to wait a few weeks to dive into them as I have one classic that I want to get to before the end of our school year, and then we will be ready to jump into our summer read-aloud plan which I'm kind of excited about. Maybe I'll make it back to share that later this week. : )

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