Thank you to @kidlitexchange for providing @bookedupblog with a free copy of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
As I said earlier, each of the characters are endearing in their own right, but it is the bond the Vanderbeekers have with each other that really makes this book special. They may get on each other’s nerves, but they stick together through thick and thin. While the parents accept that they will have to move, it is the five children that step up as the stars. I know it will inspire readers to do the same in their own lives.
This book is full of lessons for parents or teachers to discuss with their readers. I’ve read that this book does well as a read-aloud, and I would have to agree. It can be used to start conversations on a variety of topics including our who makes up our communities and how we interact with them. It’s a great opportunity to discuss how to better understand the world around us, including our next door neighbors. Sometimes we’re so close, but know very little about those we share a wall, a fence, a sidewalk, or even a zip code with.
There was not much to dislike in this book. Yes, it was a bit predictable as far as its course of action, but it wasn’t distracting. I’m sure the middle grade readers that it is targeted toward will not find it predictable at all and will be rooting for the Vanderbeekers to find a solution to their situation. The portrayal of the landlord, Mr. Beiderman, as a curmudgeon and a recluse is comical at first, but ultimately is problematic in what it tells readers. It would be important to talk about reactions to loss and the various ways people grieve. (I hope that wasn’t too much of a spoiler!)
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street was a light and hopeful read, despite the pretty serious circumstances of a family losing their home with no where else to turn. If students have experienced this in their own lives, it may be a trigger for them, even though the book is pretty upbeat. I’m very excited that Glaser is continuing the adventure (or misadventure) with two sequels in 2018 and 2019, respectively! It also looks that if you share how much you enjoyed the book on Instagram and tag Glaser, she'll send your family some book swag!
TL/DR: An enjoyable and charming read for multiple ages that can be used as a read-aloud or for independent reading. Even parents will love this one!
Rating: 4/5 stars
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