Posted in Book Reviews, Reading, Words

Book Review: The Vanderbeeker Series by Karina Yan Glaser (Part 1)

The Vanderbeeker series is a fun and cheerful one. Though there are no bad words or inappropriate parts, Karina Yan Glaser uses some more advanced vocabulary words (which is one of the things I love about these books — simple stories transformed into more difficult reads), and therefore I recommend it if you are over 9 or 10 years old to 14 or so. All three are entertaining stories about a family of seven living in a charming brownstone in Harlem. The five Vanderbeeker children are perseverant and independent..sometimes a little too independent, and that’s what sparks the story-line in all three books. It really shows the bonding and tightness of a community.

**And, this isn’t the author’s work (it is the work of Karl James Mountford for the first book, Lisa Vega and Sheila Smallwood (designers) and Karl James Mountford (artist) for the second book, and Lisa Vega (designer) and Katya Longhi (artist) for the third book), but I have to mention that the cover art is so vibrant and breathtaking, especially the second and third books (the third book will be in Part 2).**

Book 1: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

Image from Amazon

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Ages 10+
293 pages

This is what it says on the back of the book:
“It’s five days before Christmas, and the Vanderbeeker children should b dreaming about sugarplums and presents. But when their curmudgeonly landlord mysteriously refuses to renew their lease, the five siblings must find a way to change his mind before New Year’s. All they have to do is show him how wonderful they are, right? But as every well-intentioned plan goes comically awry, what the Vanderbeekers ultimately need is a Christmas miracle.
Funny, heartfelt, and as lively as any street in Harlem, this cozy family novel is about the connections we make and the unexpected twists and turns life can take.

What I like about this teaser is that it is literally a sneak peek into the book — or, well, the whole series. Well, obviously, that’s the point of a teaser, but what I’m saying is, not only does it preview the story, but also kind of sums up the writing style. Take a look. It is written in a simple and concise way, but at the same time it also pleasantly surprises you by including a word like “curmudgeonly.” In addition, it has that funny-but-not vibe, if you know what I mean. Like, it tries to be funny but it isn’t, but that doesn’t make it bad, it contributes to the personality of the books in a positive way. And finally, it is quirky, also in a good way. I like quirky books, so.

But enough talk about the back of the book; that’s not what I’m reviewing! I rate the book three and a half stars because it was good but not great. It has positive messages of family comes first, and the Vanderbeekers are caring and determined kids. Actually, the community bond was so strong in all of the books that upon reading it again recently, I started to really miss that wonderful feeling of togetherness. I would also say that this book is a good read-aloud, because it is a little funny, exciting, and adventurous.

A pitch-perfect debut. … Readers will look forward to future adventures. A highly recommended purchase.

School Library Journal, starred review

Few [families] in children’s literature are as engaging or amusing as the Vanderbeekers, even in times of turmoil. … A biracial family with a close-knit diverse community, the Vanderbeekers are swiftly, deftly individualized. … Beautifully written … wildly entertaining.

Booklist, starred review

Utterly enchanting.

Linda Sue Park, Newbery medalist

Delightful and heartwarming.

New York Times Book Review

Book 2: The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

Image from Amazon

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Ages: 10+
323 pages

This is what it says on the back of the book:
When catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, the Vanderbeekers must band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They have nineteen days to turn the ivy-ridden, possibly haunted, abandoned lot down the street into the best community garden in Harlem.
But creating a garden from scratch is not as easy as it seems, and with no money, absolutely zero gardening experience, and the threat of a slick real estate developer eyeing the land, the Vanderbeekers face their greatest challenge yet.

First of all, I just want to clarify, their “beloved upstairs neighbor” is not the person who was trying to who wasn’t renewing their lease in Book 1. The Vanderbeekers have three upstairs neighbors, a couple named Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet and their landlord, Mr. Beiderman.

Anyway, this was a fairly good book with plenty of perseverance. especially between the kids. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author likes to garden, because that is definitely the point that is put across — how amazing and rewarding gardening is. (Personally, I have never taken up gardening, so I don’t really have an opinion.) The Vanderbeeker children are willing to take on any challenge that faces them and are brave and caring as they push to complete this difficult task. They also receive lots of support and from the community so it also shows a tight bond in that sense, not only through loving siblings. I liked the other books better, but this one was still enjoyable. It had a very happy and heartwarming ending that is guaranteed to change the mood of any and all readers of this entertaining book. ADD IN SOMEWHERE: I wouldn’t be surprised if the author likes to garden, because that is definitely the point that is put across — how amazing and rewarding gardening is. Personally, I somewhat disagree, but maybe you don’t.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which reviews the 3rd book in the Vanderbeeker series, The Vanderbeekers To The Rescue, in which they have to very quickly save their mother’s job as a professional pastry chef. If you are interested in the books you can buy them via the links displayed below each picture. Click here to see more of my book reviews, or here to go back to my blog. And don’t forget to like if you enjoyed give me feedback in the comments! ↓↓↓


A teenager obsessed with words of all kinds. When I’m not reading or writing, I like musical theater, drawing, and painting. (she/her)

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Vanderbeeker Series by Karina Yan Glaser (Part 1)

  1. I truly think it is a shame that you only give these books 3-3.5 stars…but to each his/her own. I personally loved the books!!! Let’s just say that I am over 14 and ADORE them!! If you enjoyed these books well enough, then you should consider reading The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. They are very similar. Childish, warm and loving, and very family-oriented!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eh well, I have a tendency to rate things too high so I was trying to do it a little lower this time and stop and consider it more, but it’s cool that someone else likes them too! I’m excited for the fourth book to come out in September (I think) and I will look more into The Penderwicks. Thanks for the recommendation!

      Liked by 1 person

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