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If you are interested in reading reviews from a mom and some kids interested in reading through the Top 100 Children’s Novels, please visit Here’s the story. 

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Moving soon!

If you’ve found your way here and like what you see, I’d like you to know that this project will be continued with a new group of readers – since my daughter is about to graduate from high school and she’ll soon be busy reading college text books.

Even though we haven’t posted anything for 5 years, folks still stop by nearly every day, so I’ve enlisted some young friends to help me get this book list reviewed!

We’ll be starting our first book within a few days, so as soon as I come up with a name for the new blog, I’ll post a link to what should be a great reading adventure. Hope you and your kids can join us!

Book #6: All-of-a-Kind Family

What can I say?  All-of-a-Kind Family is a charming little story about a charming large family.  It is not an action-packed, suspenseful tale, nor does it have anything mystical or magical about it.  It is a real-life type of story, with people that we could imagine meeting, who live in a place that is old fashioned, but pretty normal.

For me, one of the most exotic and amazing things about life in early 1900s Manhattan was how much they could buy for a penny.  Talk about your good old days!  Of course, their allowance was measured in pennies as well, so maybe it’s not as good as it sounds.

The story takes us through everyday life and holiday times –  roughly over the course of a year.  Judging by the mention of holidays, we go pretty much from late fall of one year to early fall of the next.  The opening scene is one that should endear the family of young girls to any reader – the weekly trip to the library!  It’s a very important day for these girls because although their family is not destitute, they are poor, and owning books is out of the question for them.  The trauma of a lost library book showcases the sympathetic support among the sisters and the kindness of their great friend, the Library Lady.

As I said, not exactly a thrill-a-minute style of beginning, but really, what’s not to like?

I think what I liked most about this book was the focus on little-kid feelings and impressions of all that happened, from shopping in the marketplace for the Sabbath dinner, deciding how to spend the precious pennies they receive after lunch each day, the sights and smells of their father’s junk shop, conversations and games at bedtime.  All important stuff, seen from the child’s-eye view.  During the market visit, we get the following observations:

“At the next corner, Henny bought a fat, juicy sour pickle with her after-lunch penny.  She ate it greedily, with noise and gusto, while her sisters watched, their mouths watering.  ‘Selfish!  How about giving us a taste, huh?’

Henny pretended that she didn’t hear them, but before the pickle was half gone, she stopped teasing and gave each a bite.

Inside Mama’s favorite fish store, the smell was not so pleasing.  ‘Gertie,’ suggested Charlotte, ‘let’s squeeze our noses tight and talk to each other while we’re squeezing.’

And that’s just what they did, talking about anything at all just so they could hear the funny sounds which came through their squeezed noses.  ‘Look at the big fish with goggly eyes,’ said Gertie.”

The prose is very straightforward, but I felt the little-kid need for a bite of the pickle, and could hear the funny-sounding pinched-nose voices as I read.

I got an education about Jewish holidays, too.  I knew something of Hanukkah (not mentioned at all in the book, by the way) and Passover and the High Holidays, but not about dressing up and using noisemakers for Purim or anything at all about Succos.  Again, it’s all told with attention to the details that a child would remember – the specialness, the break from the ordinary.

This is definitely a “fond memories” type of story – told by a narrator who clearly loved her own childhood.  There is a chapter devoted entirely to Mama being strict about not wasting food and not budging on the lunchtime rules – if someone did not finish their soup, they could not move on to the rest of the meal.  No question about it.  And there was a chapter about all the girls getting scarlet fever and the excitement of being under quarantine and missing school and not being able to sit at the table for the Seder at Passover.  But even these chapters are told with sense of fondness and nostalgia, and the assurance of parental solidity and love.

As an adult, I’m not likely to reread this book like I do for something like Harry Potter or A Wrinkle in Time, but for young readers, this is a nice little trip back in time, and for many, a peek into big city life, a look at a different culture, or even a taste of what it’s like to be part of a large family.

Particulars

Number of pages: 188

Chapters:  13

Date of publication:  1951

Story time and setting:  Early 1900s, Lower East Side Manhattan (largely Jewish Community)

First line:  “That slowpoke Sarah!”  Henny cried.  “She’s making us late!”

Main characters: Mama and Papa, five sisters (Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, Gertie), a large Jewish community and a couple of special friends – Charlie and The Library Lady.

Reading age level:  8 and up (some unfamiliar words for young gentile readers, but new words are always good)

Emotional/Maturity level:  We can all handle reading about a happy, loving, hard-working family.

Katie’s take: Half Magic

We are changing things up a little now in the order of things.  I am writing my review first since I finished the book first.  This already tells you something about the book.  I always read fast the books that I like most.  Some books I can read in one day others it take me a while.  With this book the only reason it took me three days is because I have to eat.  So now I will introduce the characters of this story before we get started.  (Just a little hint the books that I have a long review for I really liked.)

Jane- Jane is best described as a big sister.  That was the characteristic that stood out most to me.  At the beginning of the book you see mostly the bossy and controlling big sister.  Then as the story goes on and it’s her turn ( you’ll get what I mean when you read the story) she changes for the better.  I don’t know what it is like to be the eldest child, but I do know what it feels like to be an only child AND a younger child.  The reason is because I have a brother that is fifteen years older than me and he was away at college from when I was three till I was seven.  The point is, before I go on a long rant on how I had no siblings until all of a sudden this stranger came into my life and said ‘Hey I’m your brother’, that I don’t know what the responsibility is like so I can not judge her too much, but I’m sure my mom can since she was the eldest of four.

Mark- Mark is the only boy in he family so it must be hard for him with a house full of girls.  He is also my favorite character in the story.  It takes him a little longer than the others to understand what is happening to them.  He is my favorite character because he lives with all these girls and he still manages without a dad in the house.  Since he gets to change first he seems to be more grown up than the others until they’ve all had their turn.  Another thing about Mark is that he is kind of difficult to describe unless you have read the book, so I think that I will end talking about him here.

Katharine- Katharine is more of a classics lover like poems or Shakespeare.  Which explains why she……..Well I won’t tell you that because that would give most of the story about Katharine away.  Being one of the middle children she isn’t as noticed than the others.  Jane is the oldest, Mark is the only boy, and Martha is the youngest, so that kind of leaves Katharine out there in the middle of everybody.  She makes a point of stating this somewhere in the middle of the book to Jane, when Jane was saying she would be first in the adventure.  So Katharine gets to go after Mark, even though he didn’t really expect it.  Lets just say something magical happens in Mark’s roller skates.  I think that is basically all I can say about Katharine.

Martha- Martha being the youngest thinks that everyone else doesn’t appreciate her as much as they do the other children.  We learn that she has a part in all of this like the others.  She makes the second wish ( Jane made the first one without knowing it and makes a snobbish kid upset by it) that lasts a while and is one of the more funny wishes.  And a hint on what happens when it’s her turn is ‘The Martians are invading!  Run for your life.’  That is all about her that stands out to me in the story.

Carrie (the cat)- Carrie is the family cat.  She is lazy and a little on the chubby side.  there isn’t much to say about her except that she, like all the others, has her say in all of this.  At least she has half her say ( Oh! I love making cheap puns.)

I haven’t mentioned everybody in this story, I talked about the main people (And their cat).  It is definitely in my top ten favorite books ever.  I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone seven or below because they might not fully grasp the concept.  This book has almost everything in it. It has knights, romance, deserts, and a lot of other things to (or at least half of lots of other things).  If you want to understand my review than you’ll have to read the book and THEN read my review again.

Katie’s Take: Little House on the Prairie

My mom and I think that this book should be renamed the little house of terror.  Between the fires, the Indians, and the sickness it seems like the Ingalls never get a rest.  It was a good thing when Laura found super strength to pull Mary and Carrie away from the burning log while they were still sitting on the rocking chair.

As with the last book I loved it.  I think that I liked this book better than the last because it had more action.  Mary is probably my least favorite person because she doesn’t want to be exciting like Laura.  Ma and Pa are still the same, but they seem to be even more brave than last book.  When they had to get ready for the prairie fire, it was coming at them so fast.   There is so much to say about this book I will just give you a short summary of it.

Every chapter usually brings a new trial for the Ingalls family.  When mom hurt her ankle, when they almost lost Jack, when the chimney catches on fire, or even when Indians came into their house and started to take their food.  It is a scary book and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under eight years old.  I love this book and it was a pleasure reading it.

We’re still here!

Sorry for the long absence!  We are so pleased to have folks following us and I apologize that there hasn’t been much to follow lately.  I have finished Little House on the Prairie and will be reviewing it soon.

While I’m here, I wanted to give a plug for a book that Little House fans might be interested in.  Over at Sommer Reading, I found out about The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, by Wendy McClure.  It’s a fun read about a woman who was obsessed with Laura and family when she was a kid and went on a journey to personally experience the places and things mentioned in the book.  It’s funny and has a good bit of information about the real Laura and impressions about the Laura from the books.

Back soon with a review and then on to Half Magic!

Katie’s Take: Little House in the Big Woods

“The Little House in the Big Woods” is a great book for the ages eight and up.  In my opinion it is an important book to read and it also makes you realize just how lucky we are that we don’t have to go out and hunt for food or travel in a wagon to go to town.  And even though Mary and Laura are younger than me they have gone through a lot more than I have.

My beginning thoughts on this book weren’t at all right.  Even though the girls did pick flowers occasionally and sew, there were also some (how do I put this) GROSS 🙂 parts.  Like the pig’s bladder, pig’s tail sizzling, etc.  The way that Laura describes all the details in the book though made you think that you could actually smell, taste, and feel everything going on inside the story.  The hanging a deer on a tree part kind of caught me off guard though.  I never knew that people did that.  And when Laura was surprised her dad hadn’t caught a deer I was thinking of what I would have thought if my dad had come home and hung a dead deer on the palm tree in front of our house.  And my thoughts were that my dad had gone a little crazy and I think my neighbors would agree.

Now about the characters.                                                                                                             Ma: There isn’t much to say about Ma except that shes hard working, sweet, pretty, and a good dancer.                                                                                                              Pa: Pa seems to be a great dad, husband, hunter, friend, and craftsman.  He is a hard worker and is the perfect kind of guy to live in the woods.                               Mary: Mary to me can be an awesome sister at times, a boring sister at times, and a mean sister at times.  For example when Mary and Laura were getting wood and Mary said blond curls were better than brown curls was mean.  And Mary got what she deserved when Laura slapped her on the cheek.                        Laura: Laura seems to be pretty well behaved for her age, but can be a brat at times.  Like when she had to sit in the corner for doing something wrong and not getting the punishment other kids would have gotten she was all grumpy.  However most of the time she was well behaved and polite.

In conclusion I think that his book would be best for ages eight and up.  You never get too old to read this book.  All in all I loved this book and would recommend to any kind of reader.

The End