I read this book over my winter break, and it was absolutely the perfect timing. Karina Yan Glaser’s novel, The Vanderbeekrs of 141st Street, takes place entirely during the week before Christmas. You feel the gearing up for the holidays taking place in the setting of this story, especially the nostalgia that we all feel for our childhood homes during the holidays. The nostalgia runs deep for the Vanderbeeker children, and now that is all suddenly at risk to be coming to an end.
The Vanderbeekers are losing their family home, or the bottom floor of their apartment building. They have just been given notice that their landlord, the old, grumpy Mr. Biederman, has refused to allow the Vanderbeekers the opportunity to renew their lease. The Vanderbeeker children are devastated at the thought of leaving their Harlem neighborhood, and they hatch a plan to convince grumpy Mr. Biederman to let their family stay.
All five of the Vanderbeeker children join forces and add their individual spins, talents, and personalities to the efforts to win over Mr. Biederman. Naturally, things go all wrong for the children, and their sweet efforts to help save their home may actually be adding fuel to Mr. Biederman’s desire to have them gone for good. However, like true holiday books, the spirit of home, holidays, and families may just prevail in the long run.