The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
by Karina Yan Glaser, published 2017
“The five kids started exchanging ideas for winning over the man on the third floor. Operation Beiderman had officially begun.”
The timing of this new children’s book is perfect, since it is set just before Christmas, and I’m reviewing it in November. However, this is not really a book about the holiday, it’s a children’s book about family, and kindness. Each of the five siblings in this story have to dig deep to find out how to be kind to someone they don’t know, and how to keep trying, despite the obvious failures. Their mission: to save their beloved family home in Harlem.
There is lots of humor in this children’s book, as well as sometimes almost non-stop action — I found myself having a hard time keeping up with all five of them and their comings and goings. Yet I doubt that a child reader would have the same difficulty. There is also a great deal of warmth and love between the family, and their entire neighborhood, making me wish that we all lived in neighborhoods like this imaginary Harlem ‘hood.
The ending came about rather quickly, as at least three-quarters of the children’s book made a good resolution seem hopeless. In some ways, it’s almost a deux ex machina, as the solution literally gets pulled out on the last day possible. But I don’t mind that, as it kept me reading and reading and reading, since I really wanted to know the outcome.
I hope many children find their way to this delightful children’s book. I hope there is another! I’m not sure of the age range. The publisher says 7 to 10. I think it’s more like 8 to 12.