Saturday, January 20, 2018
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, by Karina Yan Glaser. Houghton MIfflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2017. $23.99 ages 8 and up
Meet Isa and Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, Laney, Mr. and Mrs Vanderbeeker, Franz, George Washington, Paganini and the other wonderful characters who people their lives. You will not soon forget them, and you will highly anticipate meeting them again in the near future. We can only hope!
I read this awesome book last month, and remember every single scene penned by Karina Yan Glaser in her debut novel.
The Vanderbeekers live in a brownstone they love, in an neighborhood they love, and share their days with people they love, the exception being their grumpy landlord, Mr. Beiderman. Christmas is near. Though everyone should be happily anticipating the coming holiday, the family has just learned that their lease will not be renewed, and they need to be out by the end of December. They have no idea why has their landlord has made the decision, and the children are determined to campaign to have him change his mind. The five children all bring their own special expertise to the plan. Each of their attempts is met with the contempt exhibited by Mr. Beiderman. He is a mystery to them as they have never come face to face with him. They cannot comprehend how he can be so mean to a family he doesn't really know.
I love every one of the characters; each has a distinctive personality that is well drawn for readers. Their family is engaging, chaotic, full of love for each other and for their neighbors. As they do their best to find out more about their landlord, they make some discoveries that help to explain why he is the way he is, thus turning the tide for each and every one of them.
There is so much here to love. Any middle grade classroom, or student, would welcome the Vanderbeekers into their reading life. You won't want to say farewell, and you will eagerly await news that you might meet them again.
"I have always believed that raising kids means more that just being a good parent and trying to do the right things," Papa went on, his voice beginning to wobble. "It means surrounding your kids with amazing people who can bring science experiments and jam cookies, laughter and joy, and beautiful experiences into their lives. From every part of my being, I want to thank you for giving me and my family the gifts of friendship and love."