The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street


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It’s five days before Christmas and the Vanderbeeker children — Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney — should be dreaming about sugar plums and presents. But when Mr. Beiderman, their seriously unpleasant landlord and third floor neighbor, says they need to leave their brownstone apartment by New Year’s, there are suddenly more pressing worries. And the Vanderbeekers aren’t the kind of kids who will sit by sucking candy canes while some grouchy old man kicks them out of the home and Harlem neighborhood they love. 

While their parents bring out the packing boxes and talk about moving to the suburbs, the kids know there must be another way — convincing their landlord to let them stay. They try everything they can think of. Breakfast delivered to his door. Handmade gifts. Blackmail. But it’s harder than they thought to win him over, and there are other distractions, too. Isa and Jessie, twelve year old twins, get into a monumental fight. Oliver, age nine and the only boy, pens and sends a letter so rude even he’s ashamed. Hyacinth, six years old and the nicest person in the world, steals a kitten. And Laney, four and three-quarters years old, keeps disappearing to the second floor with her pet bunny and handfuls of cilantro.

The day of the move approaches, and packing boxes start crowding them out of the house. The kids know they need to pull it together for Operation Beiderman, and there’s nothing they won’t do to convince their grump of a landlord to like them. It’s an operation that has to succeed.


★  "Few [families] in children’s literature are as engaging or amusing as the Vanderbeekers."
—Booklist, starred review

★ "Glaser's pitch perfect debut set in Harlem introduces the endearing biracial Vanderbeeker family... Readers will look forward to future adventures. A highly recommended purchase for all middle grade collections.
—School Library Journal, starred review

"This is Karina Yan Glaser’s debut novel, and her contemporary family narrative preserves the winsome tone and innocence of the aforementioned classics while updating them with a rich, modern diversity of characters, settings and problems."
—The New York Times

"A heartwarming story about family and community that will appeal to readers who also enjoy an old-fashioned feel." 

"With rich dialogue and detailed descriptions of the neighborhood, the text provides a humorous and heartwarming story about siblings uniting to save their home. Through the Vanderbeekers, Glaser provides a portrait of the splendors of Harlem and the sense of community that can be built among neighbors of all backgrounds. . . This will draw fans of rollicking family stories, and while it’s centered on Christmas, it would be enjoyable any time of the year." 

"Readers who enjoy a cheery story that’s simultaneously old-fashioned and of the moment in its sensibility will enjoy this introduction to the Vanderbeekers and look forward to their future adventures."
—Publishers Weekly

"Glaser’s third-person narration weaves individual characters’ plot threads and a palpable sense of place through the larger family story in the tradition of Jeanne Birdsall, Sydney Taylor, Elizabeth Enright, and Hilary McKay."
—The Horn Book

"The Vanderbeekers join the Melendys, the Cassons, and the 'All of a Kind' Family on my list of favorite book-families. I'm in love with every single Vanderbeeker! Their story is utterly enchanting: I did not want it to end. More, please?"
—Linda Sue Park, Newbery Medalist

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden, Final Cover.jpg

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

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The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden is set in the summer, six months after The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. Isa is away at a sleepaway music camp, and the rest of the kids are wilting away in the New York City heat. But when catastrophe strikes their beloved neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant. To keep from being consumed by worry, they plan the best welcome home gift for their plant loving neighbors: the Vanderbeekers will convert the eyesore of 141st Street—a small piece of land that has been abandoned for decades—into a community garden. But creating a garden from scratch is not as easy as it seems, especially when there’s a giant “NO TRESPASSING” sign hung on the locked metal fence and the land itself is filled with trash and weeds. Can the Vanderbeekers grow a garden in the unlikeliest of places?  

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The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue (coming 9/17/19)

Available to pre-order from online retailers and at bookstores across America.
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Books of Wonder

It’s springtime in Harlem, and the Vanderbeeker kids have one glorious week off from school. Their plans include preparing for a high stakes violin audition (Isa), working on the best science fair project ever (Jessie), building the treehouse of his dreams (Oliver), knitting a pair of house slippers for Franz (Hyacinth), and practicing flips (Laney). Their plans do notinclude single handedly destroying Mama’s baking business. While the kids race against the clock to fix their epic mistake, they realize that nothing is as easy as it seems, especially when mysterious packages arrive at their door and threaten to ruin everything. 

In this third book in the Vanderbeeker series, revisit the warmth of the brownstone on 141stStreet and watch the Vanderbeekers bring a little more joy and kindness to the neighborhood, one hilarious, impossible plan at a time.