Thanks to my bookish friends, I have recently been introduced to some good reads in children books and young adult fiction.  

When I was a child, the storybooks that I favoured were Enid Blyton (such as The Secret Seven, Famous Five, Malory Towers, The Magic Faraway Tree, etc), Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators and Roald Dahl. I grew up on a literary diet of mystery and crime-solving tales, boarding school life, action and adventure stories.  I read and re-read these stories, never growing sick of them.
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The All-Of-A-Kind Family series is something that I would have loved reading when I was young, had I known of its existence then.  Too bad we didn’t have the Internet in our time, or online bookshops, or book blogs so that we could get book recommendations, like how it is for me now.

Because the series is so wonderful, I highly recommend them to anyone, be it an adult or a child.  There are 5 books in this series, starting with All-Of-A-Kind Family, followed by More All-Of-A-Kind Family, All-Of-A-Kind Family Uptown, All-Of-A-Kind Family Downtown and Ella of All-Of-A-Kind Family.

Unfortunately, it seems that most of these books, except for the first book,  are out-of-print now.  Pity ne.  I managed to purchase the first book in the series from Kinokuniya, and borrowed three (out of four) sequels from a friend who had recommended me this series.  So glad she kept the books with her all these years.

Written by Sydney Taylor at the turn of the century,  the All-Of-A-Kind Family details the family life of a Jewish family and the growing up years of five sisters at the turn of the century in the East Side, New York City.  The stories revolve around five sisters, and subsequently a brother, as well as their extended family.

These books gave me a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a Jewish family, and how they observe Jewish customs and religion.  Having attended many years of Bible study, I know of the existence of important Jewish customs and festivals such as the Passover, Hanukkah, the Yom Kippur and the Sabbath, and that they eat kosher food.   However, I don’t really know how the Jews go about observing their customs and festivals.  These books do just that.  Through the eyes of the children, I get an insight into the Jewish way of life, the steps that they take when observing major festivals, customary practices for marriages and child-birth, and the type of food that they eat during each festival.  The books also illustrate important values such as frugality, responsibility, family love and honour, through the behaviour of the children, and how their parents discipline and guide them.

The writing is plain and concise.  The stories about the children are so entertaining and delightful to read.  The illustrations in the books are beautiful.

I am hoping that a re-print of this series will take place one day, and when that happens, I am going to buy the entire series for my bookshelves.

All-Of-A-Kind Family
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