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Which All-of-a-Kind Family sibling are YOU?

AllofaKindAre you the type to gobble up your penny candy or savor it in tiny bites?

Can you imagine a world where candy costs a penny?

These and other important questions have been on our minds lately at The Horn Book, the Association of Jewish Libraries, and Lizzie Skurnick Books.

It all started when Elissa asked Lizzie Skurnick, who recently released new editions of the out-of-print books in Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family series, which sister from the series was most like her. The question— “which All-of-a-Kind Family sibling are you?” — drew excitement from Elissa’s fellow Sydney Taylor Book Award committee members, who are pumped to announce their choices for the best kids’ and YA books portraying the Jewish experience later in January. Before we knew it, a half-joking idea had turned into a full-fledged quiz.

allofakindfamilyFor those wondering, All-of-a-Who Family?, the books were originally published between 1951 and 1978 and chronicled the author’s childhood in a Jewish family with five sisters and eventually a brother. (By the time the last book ends, a second brother is on the way.) Middle child Sarah, who changed her name to Sydney in high school, wrote five episodic novels recalling her family’s adventures. Some of the incidents truly are adventures: Henny gets lost at Coney Island, Henny stands up for a boy accused of stealing. (Henny, as you can probably tell, is the adventurous and often mischievous one.) But many of the stories rest on the family’s ability to create fun with the very little they have. Mama turns dusting into a game by hiding buttons. Charlotte and Gertie put so much thought into how they’ll stretch their pennies that the planning is more fun than the spending. Oh, and the family observes the Sabbath and cleans for Passover (in the midst of scarlet fever!). When you’re in elementary school, it’s a heady feeling to read explanations of traditions you already know about. You mean, I thought, people who aren’t Jewish might be interested in what we do?

There’s one other reason I felt in-the-know: in a prime example of the small-world phenomenon known as “Jewish geography,” my New York-based family knew some of the real-life siblings. My cousin Rena Mills remembers “Aunt Syd” as a drama and Israeli dance instructor at Cejwin Camps. Rena says, “We eagerly and excitedly got ready for bed, so that she would come in our bunks to tell us stories. You can imagine how thrilled we were!” How All-of-a-Kind Family is that?

Well, Aunt Syd and her sibs probably couldn’t have imagined a Buzzfeed quiz, but creating one was more fun than market day! Are you an Ella, a Henny, a Sarah, a Charlotte, a Gertie, or a Charlie? Take the quiz and find out!

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.



  1. Elissa Gershowitz Elissa Gershowitz says:

    I was sure I’d be Sarah, but I am Ella! I guess it was from ogling Charlie (the handsome grownup, not the baby brother).

  2. Or you were just less obsessed with library debt.

  3. Shoshana and Elissa, thanks again for working with AJL on creating this wonderful quiz!

  4. Caren Cohen says:

    I got Ella! Not surprised. Always been the one taking care of everyone!

  5. Emily Schneider says:

    It’s wonderful to reissue and publicize these outstanding books, which document both universal girlhood experiences and specific Jewish customs. However, I am always disappointed when classics are published with new and undistinguished illustrations on the covers. Carolyn Haywood and Beverly Cleary have suffered the same fate. The original Sydney Taylor stories had beautiful illustrations by Helen John, Mary Stevens, and Beth and Joe Krush, and the covers did, as well.

  6. Hi Emily — we actually chose to reissue MORE and UPTOWN with their original paperback covers (the favorites of many), and then hired the wonderful artist Grace Manno to do two entirely new covers in that tradition for ELLA and DOWNTOWN, since by the next two books the cover artists had changed many times. We are looking forward to doing a set of all of Grace Manno’s covers in the future!

    All of the interior illustrations remain the same, and we’re so happy to keep the work of these artists alive.

  7. You can see all the covers (and all of our other covers) here:

  8. I feel like anyone book-obsessed enough to take this quiz would be Sarah! I also know people who knew Sydney Taylor thru Camp Cejwin.

  9. And indeed, I got Sarah.

  10. This is the greatest thing! I always liked Charlotte and Henny best and imagined myself a combination of the two (imaginative, with a sweet tooth, but always getting into trouble). Your quiz says Charlotte. I’ll take it!

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