I am excited to share a review of a new release just last week: The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser. It’s a fun few weeks for new releases I’m excited about!
I have in my possession the fourth book in the Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart. AHH!! And I’m expecting any day an ARC of Cassie Beasley’s The Bootlace Magician, the sequel to Circus Mirandus (one of my favorite fantasy novels I’ve read this year). Add in an eARC of Dragonwatch book 3 and the latest novel in Kristi Ann Hunter’s Haven Manor series, and I could do nothing but read all week! If only 😉
I love the Vanderbeeker family and was thrilled to get back into their familiar brownstone this week. I am so glad a series like this exists. It focuses on family and siblings. It shows kids making mistakes and trying to make them better. Not everything works out along the way. But what matters most is always clear.
- I love how quick these books read. I think they would be great and easy to read aloud to my kids one day.
- I love the drawings throughout these books. We get the floor plan of their home, Oliver’s ideal vs real tree houses. It makes it feel like the Vanderbeeker kids themselves are telling us their story.
- Check out my double review of books 1 and 2 here. I think my favorite book is The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (book 2) but The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (book 1) is also fantastic!
According to Goodreads, “For the Vanderbeeker kids of Harlem’s 141st Street, spring break couldn’t be off to a better start. Isa’s back from band camp, Oliver’s building his first-ever treehouse in the backyard of the brownstone, and Laney, Jess, and Hyacinth are excited to help their mother when she gets the once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a cooking magazine.
But the Vanderbeekers’ plans go off the rails when an unexpected visit from city officials puts their mother’s bakery in jeopardy. Now they’ll have to band together to save the day before they’re out of business.”
I’m always impressed by how seamlessly Glaser switched between each sibling and how real they all feel. It really feels like we get inside each sibling’s head. Creating both authentic teenage perspectives and a six year old’s is impressive. I find something to love in each Vanderbeeker sibling. Jess and Isa are both classic oldest siblings. They take care of everyone else and always seem to be in charge. I always connect easily with them as an oldest child myself. I love Oliver stuck in the middle of all those sisters and shaking them up. His adventures in his tree house are fun and I love that he loves books (even has a bookcase in his tree house). Hyacinth is so sweet. She reminds me a bit of Beth March from Little Women. Her kind nature helps her befriend the toughest of neighbors and neighborhood kids. And I love that she and Laney love being roommates. I feel like Laney changed the most between books 2 and 3. She seems to understand more. And I love the moment when she tries out her own room only to cry because she misses her sister. The Vanderbeekers are classic siblings that I think everyone with siblings can appreciate and root for.
As usual, the Vanderbeekers make big mistakes while trying to help make things right; the fun part is their attempts to rectify their mistakes without being caught. I admire how much their family loves each other. They want to help their Mama which gets them into trouble in the first place. Wow, what a fun ride we go on with the kids making all sorts of plans to fix things without their parents knowing. The midnight pink painting party is my favorite. It’s so bad and so hilarious! Of course, it would have all been easier if they simply told their parents what happened up front. And perhaps there is a lesson about that hidden in all the excitement. But what would this book look like without a Vanderbeeker sibling plan? 😉
I didn’t love the subplot about all the animals and the Vanderbeekers potentially adopting them all. I am not an animal person. So the idea of all those cats, dogs, and chickens being left on my back doorstep is terrifying. I wouldn’t know what to do with all of them! And I certainly wouldn’t keep them. Yes, it was sad to read about the conditions in the humane society. It’s sad that owners of pets will abandon them like that. But I still don’t want to have any pets myself.
The ending was a bit less satisfying than in the previous books for me. I felt like an epilogue beyond the magazine article would have been helpful for more closure. What happened with Isa’s audition? How did the renovations go? Where exactly does Orlando live? Did they find homes for all those animals (perhaps I was invested after all!)? I just finished with a lot of unanswered questions. Perhaps we’ll get more answers in a fourth Vanderbeeker book? I’m hoping so!
Overall, a delightful read and a fun addition to the Vanderbeeker series. I love the family dynamics, the hilarious misadventures of these siblings, and the way they always learn a lesson in the end. These books are full of heart, perseverance, and love. I think every middle grade reader should read them and their parents too!
Have you read the Vanderbeeker series yet?
What are your favorite middle grade series?