Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A Book Review: The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found

    This week and last week were kind of rough for me, but I decided to work on my weekly post anyway. I read this gem the day after it released and the story touched me so much I just had to share it.

    There may be minor spoilers as I try to give an accurate picture of the book.

    (The discussion questions will have spoilers, since they are supposed to be used after reading the book.)

(Note: Find my Top Ten Tuesday List featuring the Vanderbeekers' first book HERE.)

Title: The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found

Author: Karina Yan Glaser

Series: This is the fourth in an ongoing series about the Vanderbeekers.

Targeted Age Range: 8-13

Synopsis: When autumn arrives on 141st Street, the Vanderbeekers are busy helping Mr. Beiderman get ready for the New York City Marathon and making sure the mysterious person sleeping in the community garden gets enough to eat. But when they discover the true identity of the person making a home in the community garden’s shed, their world turns upside down as they learn what it means to care for someone in an impossible situation.

In this fourth book in the Vanderbeekers series, return to 141st Street with Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney as they attempt to make their neighborhood a better place, one heartfelt plan at a time.

Language: A few "oh my gosh"es and "geez"es. "Freaking", "dang", and "oh man" are used once. At a vulnerable moment, one of the main characters yells at the Vanderbeekers. One person calls Jessie a "science nerd".

Violence: One of the Vanderbeekers' neighbors is chronically ill. Death and grief are touched on subjects, as the family and neighborhood loses a beloved friend.

Romance/Sexual Stuff: A subplot of the book deals with one of the girls thinking a boy she likes is going to a school dance with someone else. Some mentions of crushes, and teasing about "boyfriends".

Spiritual Elements: Going to church is mentioned. "Amazing Grace", "I Wanna Be Ready", and "Trouble of This World" are sung during a funeral.

Magic: None

References: There are references to Halloween/Halloween decorations, National Geographic, Babe, candy brands, knitting terms, different authors and book titles, different places in New York and Georgia, Ella Fitzgerald, Alvin Ailey, the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights, and pieces of poetry.

Other Issues: There is some eavesdropping, and a lie to cover up eavesdropping (seen through). There's also a conversation that may or may not be seen as rude humor. Like the synopsis hints at, the book deals with homelessness. Due to the age of whoever wants to check this out, that topic may or may not need to be discussed outside of reading the book. There are mentions of child neglect.

Where To Buy: The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found is available on Amazon, eBay, Barnes & Noble, Abebooks, Alibris, Indigo, Better World Books, and Book Depository. There is also an audiobook version via Audible.

My Age Range: I think kids aged 10 and up would enjoy this book the most.

Read Aloud: This would be a great read aloud! In my opinion all of the Vanderbeekers books would be good read alouds.

My Opinion: After reading the first Vanderbeekers book in-depth during quarantine, I knew I was hooked on this wild, wonderful family and watching their crazy, joyful lives. I tore through #2 and #3 and was able to pre-order this book, dreaming for at least a month about what new adventures it would contain. From #1 to #4, Karina Yan Glaser has continued to infuse the series with new ideas, the unique, fun perspectives of each sibling, and her trademark humor and heart. Something I was very happy to notice through this one!
    That said, The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found tackled some heavy subject matter. Often there are a lot of mixed emotions and experiences when it comes to portraying different parts of a community. Especially ones that aren't the main focus in a lot of books. But the author did this, and everything else "hard to read" in her book, with sensitivity and compassion. She moved me and made me think. Through everything that went on in this book, she painted a stunning word picture of what it means to love someone else, even in the hard and rough places. What it means to love a community. What it means to love, period.
    I'd recommend this book for anyone looking for a rich, warm story, who are or have a loved one in a similar situation, and readers who, like the Vanderbeekers, want to go out and make the world a brighter, happier place.

Discussion Questions:

-Which Vanderbeeker kid are you most like? Why? During the book, which Vanderbeeker did you admire the most?

-After finding out about his situation, some of Orlando's old friends want him to go back to Georgia. Others, like the Vanderbeekers, want him to stay in Harlem. If you were Orlando, where would you want to go? Why?

-The Vanderbeekers tried a number of plans to convince Orlando to stay. Which of these would you have tried if you were in the Vanderbeekers' place? Can you think of any other ideas that you would have tried to keep Orlando in New York?

-Jessie struggles to know how to be a good friend for Orlando. Based on what happened in the story, what do you think Orlando needed from her the most? Do you think Jessie did those things?

-Hyacinth is more comfortable around people she already knows than in a room full of strangers. After Orlando's advice for her didn't go so well, what do you think she should have done? Can you relate to her insecurity?

-How did the loss of Mr. Jeet affect each Vanderbeeker? The community? Miss Josie? How did it give them hope despite the pain?

    Thanks for joining me for a look at The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found! I'm so thrilled to be able to write about Karina Yan Glaser's awesome work here. In my opinion, it's already deserving of a Newbery Award.

    If you have a book or book series you'd like me to review, let me know in the comments. I would love to start finding more books like the Vanderbeekers series, or something completely opposite. Have you read any of the Vanderbeekers books? If so, what's your favorite?

    Join me next week for the Week of Book Memes! Every month I'll be shoving aside a week that's dedicated to Top Ten Tuesday Lists, Book Beginnings on Friday, and more awesome, fun rambling about books. Unlike my ordinary weekly posts, I will be posting multiple times throughout the Week of Book Memes and hope that you'll be checking the blog to see what's new.

    I am also planning to host an interview with a very special author the week after, so stay tuned!

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