“All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah” by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky— A Beautiful Look at Family

Jenkins, Emily. “All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah”, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky, Schwartz & Wade, 2018).

A Beautiful Look at Family

Amos Lassen

Am I really reviewing a book about Hanukkah when it is not yet Rosh Hashanah but that is not the issue here. What is the issue is the wonderful new book for young children that wonderfully looks at family. We go back in time to 1912 to the East Side of New York City and meet a mother, a father, and five siblings, all girls. It is a “all-of-a-kind” family as the parents tell the children and from the moment we meet them we feel the love that they share. The girls are busy helping their mother prepare for their holiday feast. Problems begin when Gertie, the youngest is not allowed to help in the kitchen. Gertie is not happy about not being able to help and throws a tantrum at which point she is sent to the room that she shares with her sisters but she is still able to her the voices coming from the kitchen. Gertie really wanted to be a part of making latkes and becomes so upset that she climbs under the bed. When Papa comes home, he finds her and gives her the best job of all: to light the first candle on the menorah.

The characters here are based on the childrens’ books by Sydney Taylor and it is so good to have a new generation of all-of-a-kind family and even though I am not of the age to enjoy this book, I must say that I did (especially because I did not have to think). Now with all of the to do around immigration, it is time for us to look to the past and where we came from. The wonderful Zelinsky illustrations combined with Jenkins’s charming text gives us a winner.

“First published in 1951, Taylor’s chapter books have become time-honored favorites, selling over a million copies and touching generations of readers. In this time when immigrants often do not feel accepted, the All-of-a-Kind Family gives a heartwarming glimpse of a Jewish immigrant family and their customs that is as relevant–and necessary–today as when it was first written. Jenkins and Zelinsky’s charming compliment to Taylor’s series perfectly captures the warmth and family values that made the original titles classics.”

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