The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser (review)
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Reviewed by
Glaser, Karina Yan The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017 [304p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-544-87639-2 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-328-82902-3 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-6

The five Vanderbeeker children never imagined a future in which they did not live in their Harlem brownstone, but five days before Christmas they learn that their cantankerous landlord, Mr. Beiderman, will not be renewing their lease. Distraught at the thought of losing their home and the community of neighbors they love, the children set out to charm Mr. Beiderman with hopes of changing his mind. Because they have never met, or even seen, the mysterious landlord who lives on the third floor, what ensues is a series of well-intentioned yet disastrous shenanigans that get the children nowhere; that is, until they begin to learn about Mr. Beiderman’s past and the tragic reason behind his aversion to them and their attempts to win his favor. With rich dialogue and detailed descriptions of the neighborhood, the text provides a humorous and heartwarming story about siblings uniting to save their home. Through the Vanderbeekers, Glaser provides a portrait of the splendors of Harlem and the sense of community that can be built among neighbors of all backgrounds. Occasional drawings provide engaging depictions of the brownstone and the children’s adventures. Readers will appreciate in the lengths to which the Vanderbeeker children are willing to go to win Mr. Beiderman’s heart and will revel in the ending, which takes place on Christmas Day and is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. This will draw fans of rollicking family stories, and while it’s centered on Christmas, it would be enjoyable any time of the year.

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