Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that Lu and Bean Read may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) on products purchased through external vendors.
THE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141st STREET is a cute new middle grade book that introduces a cast of lovable siblings hoping to save their beloved Harlem apartment after their landlord decides to end their lease. The catch is that the siblings have never met the landlord, despite the fact that he lives right upstairs from them. This is unusual, since the Vanderbeeker children know everyone who lives within a few blocks of home. They set out to learn why their landlord locks himself in his lonely apartment, and along the way they discover that home is much more than a place. It’s the people who make home special.
THE VANDERBEEKES OF 141st STREET is full of rich character development. The young Vanderbeekers are relatable—good kids, but not perfect. They make mistakes, they get angry, and yet they are always looking out for one another. I enjoyed the depiction of this area of Harlem as one big family—we don’t just get to know the Vanderbeekers, we understand that this is a neighborhood where people know, love, and support one another.
I only wish we had a similar glimpse into the life of the landlord, Mr. Biederman, before the conflict with him was resolved. In their attempt to resolve the situation with their landlord, the Vanderbeekers made a series of mistakes that made “The Biederman” more angry. The resolution, on the other hand, happened so quickly that it felt anti-climactic.
Overall, though, it’s a quick, enjoyable read that will entertain many middle grade readers.