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.**
Book 3: The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue
This is what it says on the back of the book:
For the Vanderbeekers, a large biracial family living on Harlem’s 141st Street, spring break couldn’t be off to a better start. Isa has a whole week to prepare for a violin audition, Oliver is building an epic treehouse, and Laney, Jessie, and Hyacinth are excited to help their mother get ready for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a popular lifestyle magazine.
What the Vanderbeekers do not expect to do is single-handedly destroy their mother’s baking business. As the kids secretly race against the clock to fix their epic mistake, mysterious packages arrive at their door and threaten to ruin everything.
In a heartwarming family novel full of humor and wisdom, Karina Yan Glaser shows how even when life falls apart there is always a path forward, always a way to show kindness and love.
I got this book for my birthday and immediately plunged into it. It is definitely my favorite of the three. I think Glaser really highlighted each sibling’s personality and offered situations and obstacles where they each could show off what made them, them. Also, everyone was a year older, and sometimes morphing your characters into slightly more mature versions of themselves can be difficult, but it was pulled off very well in The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue. Isa and Jessie, thirteen-year-old twins who like playing the violin (Isa) and science (Jessie), are both participating in more serious competitions. Oliver, who is ten now and likes basketball and reading, is building an “epic treehouse” with his uncle. Hyacinth, 8, is even more independent, creative, and hardworking than she used to be. For example, this is shown in this dialogue on pages 142-143:
‘I’m going to knit house slippers for Franz,’ Hyacinth said.
‘That sounds like a great–‘ Papa began, then looked at Hyacinth. ‘Wait, what did you say?’
‘I’m going to knit house slippers for Franz,’ Hyacinth repeated. ‘His feet get cold.’
They all turned to look at Franz. He was sprawled among the kittens, belly up and ears flipped open.
‘How would he keep them on?’ Oliver wondered aloud.
‘Velcro,’ Hyacinth explained.
‘I’m sure he’ll be very appreciative,’ Mama said as she made her way to the door with her bakery boxes.
And finally, Laney, 6, has a discussion about how now that she’s older, she needs to start solving her own problems and fixing her own mistakes.
Mama’s baking business is a good topic for the book to be about. In the previous books, I always thought that it was an interesting and less common job Glaser chose for her to have, and so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that her job was a main part of this book. The cool job makes the story even more cheerful.
Another nice treat was the packages. I won’t say what was inside them, but they add some fun and humor to the story.
Coming soon on September 15, 2020
Book 4: The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found
I can’t wait to read this book, and I will get it as soon as possible and write a review on it then. The teaser on Amazon sounds really interesting. Here it is:
When autumn arrives on 141st Street, the Vanderbeekers are busy helping Mr. Beiderman get ready for the New York City Marathon and making sure the mysterious person sleeping in the community garden gets enough to eat. But when they discover the true identity of the person making a home in the community garden’s shed, their world turns upside down as they learn what it means to care for someone in an impossible situation.
In this fourth book in the Vanderbeekers series, return to 141st Street with Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney as they attempt to make their neighborhood a better place, one heartfelt plan at a time.
Praise for the Vanderbeekers Series
Unabashedly models a better place where the focus is on family, friends, and community and a desire to do good in the world. … Highly recommended.School Library Journal, starred review
Delightful and heartwarming.New York Times Book Review
Few families in children’s literature are as engaging or amusing as the Vanderbeekers, even in times of turmoil.Booklist, starred review