This All-of-a-Kind Family Picture Book Is a Gift to Readers

Lynn: I’m not usually one to gush nostalgically, but Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky have me doing just that. Their new picture book, All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah (2018), is a joyous celebration of both the holiday and one of my all time favorite series. As a child, I adored Sydney Taylor’s original All-of-a-Kind Family books and read and re-read them until the pages were falling out. As the child of an agnostic Jewish father and a Christian mother, I wanted so badly to understand my father’s culture and religious heritage. It was the 1950s and the only books I ever found that reflected any of that were Taylor’s. I fell in love with her busy, noisy family and their crowded but supportive immigrant community, and I loved the glimpses of their faith reflected in the stories.

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily JenkinsNow, 67 years after the first book published in 1951, Jenkins and Zelinsky have teamed up to gift readers with a return visit to the lively All-of-a-Kind Family in this vibrant picture book. It is the first night of Hanukkah in 1912, and in the kitchen intense preparations are underway, including those for the special treat, latkes. Four-year old Gertie sees that each of her four older sisters has a task and she wants to help, too. But she is told she is too young to peel or grate the potatoes, to chop the onions, or to fry the latkes in the hot schmaltz. When she throws a frustrated tantrum, Gertie is sent to the girls’ shared bedroom, where she hides miserably under the bed. It takes her gentle Papa, with a promise of a special-just-for-Gertie treat, to make things right.

Emily Jenkins has perfectly captured the textual style of the series while still making it wonderfully suited to a book for younger readers. Zelinsky’s warm, exuberant illustrations use differing perspectives and a looser style than the original illustrations; the results are evocative of the classic books but also fresh and endearing. Back matter includes fascinating notes from both Jenkins and Zelinsky, a glossary, a list of the titles in the series, and sources.

I adored this return visit to the All-of-a-Kind family and hope this rekindles a new generation of fans—and just maybe, more picture-book adventures.

About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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