Cover image for All-of-a-kind family Hanukkah / written by Emily Jenkins ; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.
All-of-a-kind family Hanukkah / written by Emily Jenkins ; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Schwartz & Wade books, 2018.

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : colour illustrations ; 28 cm.
General Note:
"Based on the classic books by Sydney Taylor."
In 1912 New York, Gertie feels left out while Mama and her four older sisters cook Hanukkah dinner, but Papa comes home and asks her help with an important task.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
JEN Book Easy Collection

On Order



Acclaimed author Emily Jenkins ( A Greyhound, a Groundhog ) and Caldecott Award-winning artist Paul O. Zelinsky ( Rapunzel ) bring the beloved All-of-a-Kind Family to life in a new format. Fans, along with those just meeting the five girls ("all of a kind," as their parents say), will join them back in 1912, on the Lower East Side of NYC, and watch as preparations for Hanukkah are made. When Gertie, the youngest, is not allowed to help prepare latkes, she throws a tantrum. Banished to the girls' bedroom, she can still hear the sounds and smell the smells of a family getting ready to celebrate. But then Papa comes home and she is allowed out--and given the best job of all- lighting the first candle on the menorah.

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.

Author Notes

EMILY JENKINS has written many highly acclaimed books for children, including A Greyhound, A Groundhog, which received five starred reviews; Toys Meet Snow, the recipient of four starred reviews; A Fine Dessert, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; Water in the Park, a Booklist Editors' Choice and a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book; Lemonade in Winter, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year; and two Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Books. Visit the author at or follow her on Twitter at @elockhart.

PAUL O. ZELINSKY is one of the most acclaimed picture book illustrators working today. He received the 1998 Caldecott Medal for his Rapunzel and the Caldecott Honor for Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, and Swamp Angel . His most recent picture book with Schwartz & Wade Books, Toys Come Home, received four starred reivews; Dust Devil was a New York Times Notable Book and an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum winner. Visit him on the web at or follow him on Twitter at @paulozelinsky.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

When two top picture book talents (the team behind the Toys Go Out series) introduce a new generation to Sydney Taylor's classic stories of Jewish family life on the Lower East Side, it's what's known in Yiddish as a mechaye-something that gives great joy. The year is 1912, and Gertie, the youngest of five sisters, throws a tantrum after being told she's too little to be included in the Hanukkah preparations: "No, Mäusele," says Mama when Gertie wants to use the potato peeler, "It's too sharp." Sent to the communal bedroom for a time-out, Gertie sulks, then worries she'll miss Hanukkah altogether. But with some sweet, timeless Papa humor and an important responsibility-lighting the first night's candle-the girl feels welcomed back into the family fold. Jenkins captures a wealth of feelings with a few understated words: "The latkes taste of history and freedom, of love and crispy potato." Zelinsky's warm-toned, rough-hewn pictures and intimate perspectives give readers a sense of both the close quarters of tenement life and the unbreakable bonds that made immigrant Jewish families so resilient. Ages 3-7. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

When darkness comes, it will be the first night of Hanukkah, 1912. This original picture book based on Sydney Taylors beloved characters serves as a perfect standalone Hanukkah read, or an inviting introduction to the authors All-of-a-Kind Family middle-grade classics. Four-year-old Gertie wants to help her older sisters prepare for the holiday; latke-making, however, involves dangerous hot oil and sharp objects. A tantrum ensues from left-out Gertie, and she is sent to her room. But eventually, with Papas coaxing, Gertie emerges ready to help Papa light the menorah for the first night of Hanukkah, for the first time. Jenkinss cozy present-tense text and Zelinskys thick-lined, expressive, color-saturated illustrations capture the happy bustle of a loving family amid lots of well-researched period details. Extensive back matter includes sources and a glossary of Yiddish terms. shoshana flax (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

New York Review of Books Review

New Hanukkah books are reminders of the holidays promise that light will triumph over darkness. i have anxious kids. So when it comes to tragic events, my general philosophy is to do whatever I can to shield them. But last month, when a shooting left 11 dead in a Pittsburgh synagogue, I was consumed by the news - and it felt hard not to share with them a version of what had happened. My daughters couldn't really fathom that a person would hate anybody, let alone want to hurt people simply for being Jewish, as we ourselves are. For my 5-year-old, this feeling of deep injustice quickly transformed into an outsize pride in the upcoming Hanukkah as her holiday, one that should get equal standing with Christmas. When we visited a drugstore the other day, she marched off to the aisle of holiday trinkets to assess the overall balance of sparkling tinsel to kitschy dreidels. At the bookstore, she eyed the children's section to ensure that all religions were on display (we live in Brooklyn: so, yes). While Hanukkah is probably the bestknown and most accessible Jewish holiday in America, it has never been a particularly important one religiously. It was elevated, starting in the 19 th century, because of its proximity to Christmas and the chance it provided for Jews in America to have their own year-end gift-giving celebration. Cleansed, usually, of its actual roots as a story about forced assimilation and a bloody rebellion, it has also become a favorite subject of children's books, something for the Jewish boys and girls whose houses Santa skips. But the inescapable dominance of Christmas makes it hard to write about the Jewish holiday in a way that doesn't feel as if it's merely responding to the Christian one. A whole genre of books points out that Josh gets eight nights of gifts to Johnny's single day - as if the point of a Hanukkah book is to make children feel O.K. about the evergreen trees and stuffed stockings they will not have. One of the best depictions of Jews on their own terms is the All-of-a-Kind Family series, the beloved books by Sydney Taylor, published between 1951 and 1978, about five sisters growing up in turn-of-the-century New York. Basing the books on stories from her own large family on the Lower East Side, Taylor first started writing the series when her daughter complained of seeing only Christian characters in the books she was reading. (I have a feeling our daughters would have gotten along.) It was also the first chapter book series to center on a Jewish family and their rituals and traditions, from the Sabbath preparations to how they celebrate Purim and Passover. So it's fitting that one of the best Hanukkah books in a long time is an adaptation of those beloved chapter books. The author Emily Jenkins teamed up with the Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky to create all-of-a-kind family haNUKKAH (Schwartz & Wades 40 pp., $17.99; ages 3 to 7), a picture book that lovingly and dutifully brings to life the family's cozy Lower East Side apartment, with Zelinsky's warm, close-up illustrations - and occasional dazzling cutaways - which evoke both the cramped quarters and the strong emotional bonds of the family. Set in 1912, Jenkins's story focuses on the youngest daughter, 4-year-old Gertie, who throws a tantrum one afternoon when she's not allowed to help make the family latkes. "No, Mäusele," her mother says, pointing to the potato parer: "It's too sharp." With pans of schmaltz bubbling, Gertie is carted off for a timeout in the cramped room she shares with her sisters. There she pouts and listens to the joyous festivities happening without her. Eventually invited out by her father, Gertie joins the warmth of her family and is offered the honor of lighting a candle on the menorah and placing it in the window. Somehow even young Gertie seems to understand that while in exile in her room, she is missing out on the rituals that have bound her people together. As the family moves to the table after lighting the candles, they sit down for dinner to enjoy their hard-earned latkes, which "taste of history and freedom, of love and crispy potato." As delightful as the book may be, it's a shame that many of the best Jewish children's books are still set in a bygone era on the Lower East Side, where children run through dense streets of Yiddish-speaking peddlers to light the Shabbos candles on Friday nights in their parents' tenements - a world that increasingly means very little to today's generation of Jewish kids. These books can turn a holiday like Hanukkah into an artifact in a museum, something that seems to have been practiced authentically only in the past as opposed to being alive and thriving today. another new book takes a totally different approach to the holiday. In meet the LATKES (Viking, 36 pp" $17.99; ages 3 to 5), the author and cartoonist Alan Silberberg tells the story of Hanukkah through a nice family of latkes. "They're just like you and me, except they're potato pancakes!" he explains. The teenage latke, Lex, is in his filthy room eating pizza while Mom and Dad are in the kitchen frying up jelly doughnuts - a traditional Hanukkah treat that's preferable to latkes if (as in this case) you happen to actually be a latke. Then Grandpa sits down with the little latke to recount the story of Hanukkah. "We celebrate this holiday thanks to the brave bees who buzzed and stung and fought to keep our people safe," Grandpa explains, taking some creative license with the story, turning the Maccabees into a hive of Mega-Bees who fought to save the Jewish temple and the lives of Jews who worshiped there. Enter some "alien potatoes" standing in for the army of King Antiochus, and a wise family dog named Applesauce, and you've got yourself a full-blown kooky comedy unpacking an ancient Talmudic tale. It's good to be reminded of the story of Hanukkah right now. The holiday invokes a tale of good guys and bad guys, of resistance, of a community holding on to its values. It's about darkness and light, and the hope that light can ultimately triumph. Even coming from the mouths of latkes, that's a story we all desperately need to hear. Deborah kolben is the editorial director at 70 Faces Media and the founder of, a Jewish parenting site.