July's pick for the Classic Middle Grade Read along with the Midnight Garden was All-of-a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. You can follow along or join in the discussion at The Midnight Garden or #tmgreadalong.
I loved how All-of-a-Kind Family was short little stories about this close knit family. I loved how it wasn't just centered on the five girls points of view, but included Mama and Papa's as well. I learned a great deal about the Jewish culture and customs from how the holidays are depicted as the seasons went by. With the inclusion of their extended family of Tanta's and Uncle's I had a rich view of the Jewish-American family during the early 1900's. I also adored how Charlie and the Librarian had such a special place in all the children's hearts. And the expression of a "step-and-stairs family" was so, so cute.
What I didn't expect while reading the story, was that so many of the moments the children had would resonate with my own childhood. Little things like Mama hiding buttons to make the chores more fun, reminds me of the "three's game" that we used to play as a kid when washing the dishes (The one who got three items washed or three dried first was the winner). Even having all us kids being sent to bed at the same time and our parents letting us stay up and sneakily watch TV from behind the chairs, because we were being quiet and they knew that we would go to bed when we were good and tired. I also identified with Sarah, being the middle child myself, and believe me I sat at a table with a plate of food that I didn't want to eat a few times and wasn't allowed to leave until I finished what was on my plate. I know for sure that is why I don't enforce that policy with my own child, but I settle for taking at least one bite before politely declining anymore.
Then there was the food, thick sourdough bread with butter and hard-boiled eggs were my favorite meal to take to school as a child. I'm pretty sure that I would have enjoyed hot chick peas, sour pickles and hot sweet potatoes too. Overall, I thought All-of-a Kind was a beautiful story of a strong family and one I would have thoroughly enjoyed reading as a child.