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Five questions for Lizzie Skurnick

skurnickSince 2013, Lizzie Skurnick Books (LSB; an imprint of Ig Publishing) has been handpicking and reissuing “the very best in young adult literature, from the classics of the 1930s and 1940s to the social novels of the 1970s and 1980s.” The list gained a passel of built-in followers with the release of Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind-Family series, beloved by little Jewish girls (and, really, by anyone who’s ever read the books) for decades.

1. Who is your favorite All-of-a-Kind Family sibling?

LS: I loved Ella, because she’s such a combination of a romantic and a drill sergeant and a psychologist, which is exactly what you’d like in an older sister. She was the girl who got to experience the most of New York, both good and bad, whether singing on a streetcar or going with Guido to a sweatshop. I always sang the solos in shul growing up, and I wished I’d had a chance to have a vaudeville career like Ella’s, although I doubt I would have given it up for Jules.

2. Which of the girls is most — or least — like you?

LS: Sigh — Sarah. I have to admit it — I am a grind, and I really care about school prizes, and I hate losing. I would love to be Henny, but you would never catch me stealing my sister’s dress — to say nothing of figuring out how to hide the stain.

3. What are some upcoming books on your publishing list that you’re most excited about?

LS: We’re very excited about our first LSB originals, Isabel’s War and Lilli’s Quest, both by LSB author Lila Perl. They’re about a young girl growing up in 1940s New York and a surprise houseguest, Lilli, a girl about her age who has survived the Holocaust. They’re both mysteries, the first from the comedic Isabel’s point of view, and the second from Lilli’s, as we learn the story of how she got to America. (We’re so very sad Perl died last year.)

4. Have you encountered books on your list that, re-reading as an adult, seem radically different from childhood?

LS: What I’ve noticed most on re-reading is not how the books seem different, but the layers I missed as a child and now see as an adult. For instance, reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter as a little girl, I only noticed details like being forced to twist hay endlessly to burn for warmth when the wood has run out. But now I see how the government left the settlers all alone, and since they’d started to depend on things the railways could bring them, like kerosene, they had a much harder time than the family did in, say, Little House in the Big Woods.

You also see things about families you never noticed before you were an adult, like how difficult it is to know how to do the right thing with your children when you’re a mother, or how scary it would be to lose your job or spouse. Suddenly, you see things from that perspective.

5. Is Hanukkah Harry coming to your house this year? (If so, what’s he bringing?)

LS: My one-year-old has suddenly discovered he loves it when mom dances the hora with him, so probably some Israeli dance CDs!

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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Comments

  1. Which All-of-a-Kind Family sibling are you?

    It’s bedtime and you have penny candy. What do you do?
    a) Ignore it. You’re far too grown up for penny candy.
    b) Eat it all and wheedle with your sister to give you her piece.
    c) Wait until morning. Mama says no eating in bed.
    d) Lead your sister in a systematic ritual of savoring.
    e) Follow your sister’s lead in a systematic ritual of savoring.
    f) Do nothing. You don’t have teeth yet.

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