The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
November 27, 2017
Disclaimer: I know the author of this book. However, the NYT Notable Children's Books of 2017 List can't be wrong! I know I haven't done one of these in awhile, but I figured now is a perfect time to get back into the habit. Congrats, Karina!
If you're anything like me, our current political climate makes it difficult to read things you previously loved. Dystopian fiction used to be one of my favorite genres. And now it just feels too close to home. It's the exact same reason I haven't been able to finish the Netflix adaption of The Handmaid's Tale.
So to find a tale about a loving family supported by their community is a moment of respite in this seeming hellmouth we're staring into. And Karina Yan Glaser gave us just the gift we needed. The Vanderbeekers are a sweet, if messy, family in Harlem. When facing obstacles that could mean the breaking up of their tight-knit community, the Vanderbeekers refuse to give in and attempt to fix it with love, understanding, and baked goods.
Glaser's voice is a joy. She gives individual personalities to all of the children with deceptively simple displays of quirks and through the dialogue between the siblings, their parents, and their neighborhood. She makes you want to live in the brownstone with all of its noise and chaos. Because at the heart of it all is a love of humanity that is sorely needed.
The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It's practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.