For Ages
8 to 12

All-of-a-Kind Family is a part of the All-of-a-Kind Family Classics collection.

Meet the All-of-a-Kind  Family -- Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie -- who live with their parents in New York City at the turn of the century.

Together they share adventures that find them searching for hidden buttons while dusting Mama's front parlor and visiting with the peddlers in Papa's shop on rainy days. The girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises.

But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all!

An Excerpt fromAll-of-a-Kind Family

The Library Lady
"THAT SLOWPOKE SARAH!" Henny cried. "She's making us late!"

Mama's girls were going to the library, and Henny was impatient.

"If it was Charlotte, I could understand," said Ella, who was the eldest and very serious. "I'd know Charlotte was off dreaming in some corner. But what can be keeping Sarah?"

"All the best books will be gone," complained Henny.

"Maybe she forgot it's Friday."

"No!" interrupted Charlotte. "Not Sarah!"

No, not Sarah, nor any of the girls could forget that Friday was library day.
Almost no East Side child owned a book when Mama's children were little girls. That was an unheard-of luxury. It was heavenly enough to be able to borrow books from the public library and that was where the children always went on Friday afternoons. Right after school, they rushed off happily to get fresh reading material for the week end. Even Gertie who was not yet old enough to "belong" took the weekly trip to look at the picture magazines.

Where was Sarah? Mama was beginning to be concerned too. It wasn't like the child to be late.

At last footsteps could be heard on the creaky back steps. Henny ran to open the kitchen door and poked her head out. "Here she comes," she called.

"Well, it's about time," said Ella. "Come on, let's get our books."

Henny opened the door wider. "What's the matter?" her sisters heard her asking.

A woebegone little figure, face streaked with tears, walked slowly into the kitchen.

"Mama," piped up Gertie, " Sarah's crying."

"Sarah, what's the matter? What's happened?"

Sarah didn't answer. Walking over to the hard brown leather couch, she threw herself face downward, weeping bitterly. Her sisters gathered in a little group around her.

Mama came over and sat down beside Sarah. Gently she stroked her hair and let the child weep. After a while she said softly, "Sarah, tell us what happened."

Between sobs, the muffled words came slowly, "My ­ library book -is -lost."

Lost! The children looked at each other in dismay. Such a thing had never happened in the family before. "Ooh ­ how awful!" Ella said, and then was sorry that the words had escaped her for they seemed to bring on a fresh burst of tears.

"Now, now, stop crying, Sarah," Mama said. "You'll only make yourself sick. Come, we'll wash your face and then you'll tell us all about it."

Obediently Sarah followed Mama to the kitchen sink. "Does it mean we can't go to the library, ever again?"

Charlotte whispered to Ella.

Ella shook her head. "I don't think so."

"Maybe we could change over to another branch," suggested Henny.

The cold water felt good on Sarah's flushed face. She was quiet now and could talk.

"It wasn't really me that lost the book. It was my friend, Tillie. You know how Tillie never takes a book out herself, but she's always wanting to read mine. When I told her about Peter and Polly In Winter, she begged me to lend it to her. She promised she'd give it back to me on Friday.
"When I asked her for it today, she said that she put it in my desk yesterday, but Mama, she didn't! She really didn't!"

"Are you sure?" asked Mama. "Maybe you left it in school."

"I looked a thousand times. That's why I came so late. I kept hunting and hunting all over the schoolroom."

"Maybe you brought it home with you yesterday and left it here in the house."

"Then it should be on the shelf under the whatnot," Ella said.

Hopefully, everybody rushed over to the whatnot where the library books were kept, but alas, there was no Peter and Polly book there today.

"I cleaned the house pretty thoroughly this morning," said Mama. "I don't remember seeing the book anywhere. But let's all look again anyway."

How anxiously everyone searched. The children peered into every corner of the two bedrooms and they poked under beds and dressers. No one believed it was in the front room, but still they searched it diligently. They searched and searched until they had to agree that it was useless to continue.

When they were back in the kitchen again, Sarah said tearfully, "How can I go and tell the library that the book is lost?" She was ready to cry again.

"I'm afraid they won't let you take out any more books until we pay for this one," Mama worried. "And a book costs a lot of money."

"But Tillie lost the book," argued Sarah. "She should pay."

"We can't be sure of that," Mama said. "Tillie claims she returned it. Maybe someone else took it."

"No library could make me pay for any old book." Henny was just trying to cover up how bad she felt too.

"I'm afraid the library will expect you to pay for it. And it's only right," continued Mama. "You borrowed the book and that makes you responsible. The library lets you borrow the book and you're not supposed to lend it to anybody else. I know you wanted to be kind to Tillie, but if Tillie wants to read a library book, then she should take out her own. I wish I could help you pay for this, but you know, Sarah, there's no money for such things."

"But Mama, will you come with me and talk to the library lady?"

Mama shook her head. "No, Sarah, that's something you must do yourself. If you explain just how it happened, I'm sure the library lady will understand that you didn't mean to be careless. Find out what you have to do, and we'll talk about it when you get back. Now you'll all have to hurry. There's not much time left before supper. So, the rest of you, see if you can choose your books quickly today."