Friday, July 5, 2013

What I've Listened to Lately

What I've Listened to Lately . . .

All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor , read by Suzanne Toren-- Children's Classic (1951)

At the turn of the 20th century, a family of five little girls, known as the All of a Kind Family, live with their Mama and Papa in the Lower East Side of New York. They enjoy visiting the library and choosing books with the kind library lady; buying and eating treats; poking around Papa's peddler shop; visiting Coney Island and celebrating holidays both American and Jewish. This story is the first in a series. It's a series of vignettes about the seasonal activities of ordinary girls. The stories are simple and sweet. There's nothing supernatural or violent about their lives. They're just ordinary girls living ordinary lives. I loved this series when I was a kid and nothing has changed. I was delighted to discover this audio production through the library and am pleased to report that the story charmed me just as much now as it did back then. The depiction of life in the Jewish neighborhood in the Lower East Side is so descriptive, I can very easily see the sisters and their world. Like Little Women and The Five Little Peppers, the family in this story is poor but happy. They love each other and support each other. I especially liked the depictions of Jewish holidays. Not being Jewish, those traditions were unknown to me when I first read these books years ago. The characters are so realistic! I loved all the sisters. I can relate to different aspects of several of the sisters: Ella, the oldest; Sarah, the bookish one and Henny, the tomboy. Henny is my favorite. She's so spunky and energetic. Suzanne Torren reads each character in a different voice. It was very easy to tell which sister was speaking for the most part. Charlotte and Gertie sound a lot alike but it's a testament to Sydney Taylor's writing that their dialogue is unique enough to tell apart. Mama and Papa are read with Yiddish accents which sounds a little phony, but that is the only weak link in this production. I highly recommend this book to kids (not just girls) and adults ages 6+. I am eager to reread the rest of the series. I remember Ella of All of a Kind Family was a particular favorite.

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