Today it officially feels like fall at our house. I got out our pumpkin decorations, made homemade soup and lit a fall candle. Happy Birthday to my mom as well!
I am SO excited to review The Vanderbeekers Make a Wish by Karina Yan Glauser — the latest book in the Vanderbeekers series! I was lucky enough to get an ARC Kindle copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. This is a really big deal for me! I have been reviewing a lot of fantastic titles from Shadow Mountain this calendar year. But this is my first bestseller ARC that I have been approved to review. Thank you so much to Karina Yan Glauser and Clarion Books for the ARC!
First I want to start by saying I am a big fan of the Vanderbeeker series. I have loved every single book in this series. This Harlem family is so relatable and so much fun. Their misadventures are exciting and they work so hard to achieve their goals. I love the Vanderbeekers!
Check out my previous reviews of the first 4 books in the series:
- The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street & The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (Books 1 & 2)
- The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue (Book #3)
- The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found (Book #4)
- Book 5 releases tomorrow — September 21, 2021!
Book summary: “One hilarious Harlem family is on a mission to find the perfect way to celebrate their Papa’s fortieth birthday while discovering more about their mysterious grandparents in this heartfelt romp and latest installment to the New York Times best-selling series, perfect for fans of the Penderwicks.
It’s summer on 141st Street, and the Vanderbeekers are looking forward to Papa’s surprise fortieth birthday party.
But then Papa must leave town to help his best friend and the Vanderbeeker children are surprised to find their maternal grandparents on their doorstep. Grandma is very critical of everything they do. Meanwhile, they find themselves learning more about their papa’s father than ever before, and wishing they could have known him a bit better. Can they learn more about the grandfather they lost and come to appreciate the grandparents they still have while making sure their papa has the best birthday ever?“
One of my favorite elements in these books is getting inside the heads of all five Vanderbeeker siblings and this book does that so well. Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney all have their own distinct personalities and interests. While they are definitely siblings, they are very different as well. Glauser transitions between their voices seamlessly. I always know just whose head we are in and how they feel about what’s going on. I love seeing the same scene from several points of view as the action unfolds. And I find all five perspectives so likable and endearing. The Vanderbeekers feel like a real family who make mistakes, celebrate big moments and love each other through it all.
I really enjoyed the added dimension of family history in this book and the importance of knowing who you come from. As the Vanderbeekers gather stories and clues to their grandpa’s (Pop Pop) life and plan a spectacular 40th birthday surprise for their Papa, they learn so much about their heritage. I loved meeting the people that were important to Pop Pop and learning their stories with the Vanderbeekers. I wish I could learn to build a boat with Laney and Yardsley or shoot hoops with Jamal. As they learn about their lost grandfather, they also come to appreciate the grandparents that they do have. At first, I couldn’t believe how critical their grandmother was and how silent their grandpa remained. No wonder their relationships were not good! But the ending of this book is absolutely beautiful as they find healing and reconciliation with them. This is such a beautiful message about the power and importance of family — both those that live close and far, those that you’re related to by blood and who you adopt as your own.
The New York City setting is vibrant and so vivid throughout this book. I have only been to New York City once with my family. And now I would love to experience the Vanderbeeker’s parts of the city. There are so many details that pulled me into their world. Their library with the librarian who knows them by name. Castleman’s Bakery for croissants, apple turnovers, and all the sweet treats. A hole in the wall pizzeria with the best pizza in New York. Mama’s Cat Cafe for her delectable cookies. The Brooklyn Bridge on bikes which sounds like such a fun memory! Even just meeting the friends that become family in their brownstone. It was so fun to catch glimpses of some of my favorite characters from previous books like Miss Josie, Mr Beiderman, Orlando and more. I love their neighborhood and the love they feel there. It makes me want to create a similar place for my kids to grow up and I think we are doing that now.
I loved this 5th installment in the Vanderbeeker series. The characters are as endearing and adventuring as ever. The plot is so excited with several twists I did not see coming. I would have liked to read Papa’s reaction to the big surprise (perhaps in book 6? 😉 ) The themes of kindness, understanding and the importance of family are beautiful. One of my favorite books in the series!
Have you read the Vanderbeeker books yet? Which is your favorite?
What are some of your favorite books set in NYC?