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Judaica] Taylor, Sydney.

All-of-a-kind Family.


[Judaica]. Taylor, Sydney. All-of-a-kind Family. Illustrations by Helen John. New York…: Wilcox and Follett Company, (1951).
8vo.; beige cloth pictorially stamped in red; orange illustrated dust-jacket; spine sunned; edge worn; three small chips; four small closed tears internally mended with tape; gold foil seal.
First edition of Taylor's first book, "the first commercially published, widely distributed children's book with a Jewish subject" (Diner, p. 59), which "for the first time in the history of American publishing presented ordinary American Jews to their non-Jewish neighbors" (p. 60). Taylor (1904-1978), an actress and dancer, wrote the story for her daughter, who had lamented that all her children's books were about Christian children. She modeled the adventures of five sisters on her own family, and based their experiences growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan from stories of the immigrant experience her parents had shared.
The impact of its publication by Wilcox and Follett, who awarded her the second annual Charles W. Follett Award "for worthy contributions to children's literature," was profound. Historian Hasia R. Diner devotes considerable attention to it her in her examination, Lower East Side Memories: A Jewish Place in America (Princeton University Press, 2000). She credits Taylor's book with helping "the Lower East Side [break] into the mainstream of American culture" (p. 59), calling it "the earliest text that celebrated the neighborhood as the incarnation of Jewish authenticity" (p. 173):
The narrative line and rhetorical style of All-of-a-Kind Family attested to the emerging sanctity of the lower East Side and the particular easy in which American Jews after World War II remembered it…. In this neighborhood, Jews lived in a universe of almost total Jewishness….
[T]his early artifact of the memory of the Lower East Side, written by a Jewish woman a generation removed from it, offered post-World Ward II readers a glimpse of a world where food tasted better, where grass and trees did not make the good life possible, where families could be observant Jews and enthusiastic Americans at one and the same time. Taylor's Lower East Side, an almost hermetically sealed world of Jewishness and love, existed without contest over culture or generational conflict….
All this was made possible by a series of historic events unleashed by the closure of World War II and the realities of American Jewish life in the 1950s. A community made up primarily of the children of immigrants, Jews in America were now, for the first time, fully American and fully middle class. Having just witnessed, but from afar, a harrowing period in the history of their people, they embraced an expansive set of American opportunities fostered by postwar liberalism…. (pp. 61-2, 65, 13)
All-of-a-Kind Family received high praise from all quarters, and the Jewish Book Council of the Jewish Welfare Board awarded it the first Isaac Siegal Memorial Award for Jewish children's, and the Association of Jewish Libraries eventually named an award for her. Taylor had found a new career: four more "All-of-a-kind" books followed (along with an odd-dozen other books and many short stories), and "essentially made up the entire corpus of children literature in the 1950s that identified the lives of American Jews as fit reading material for American children" (p. 59).

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