A great new family for readers of middle grade fiction!
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The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. Twins Jessie and Isa are the oldest, and as different from each other as possible–Jessie is scientific and practical, Isa is musical and quiet. Oliver is the only boy, something that can be a trial, coming in the middle of four sisters. Hyacinth loves animals and making crafts. And Laney, the youngest is imaginative and active. She has to be, to keep up with the others! They have a dog named Franz, a cat named George Washington, and a house rabbit named Paganini. And they love their home…from the basement to the rooftop. The only drawback is that the Beiderman, their landlord, lives on the top floor. He’s grouchy and doesn’t like kids. Or so they’ve heard…they’ve actually never seen him. He just calls their parents to complain. Luckily, the Vanderbeeker kids have learned how to get along with his demands…and it’s not like he’s right above them. Their apartment and his are divided by the second floor apartment, where Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet live.
So it comes as a total shock when their parents tell them that Mr. Beiderman has decided not to renew their lease…and they have only eleven days to pack up and find a place to live. What makes it worse is that it’s only four and a half days until Christmas; who can think of presents and holiday spirit when they may lose their home?
The Vanderbeeker children decide that there’s only one course of action–to make the Beiderman realize that they’re the perfect family for 141st Street. If they can make him love them, then he won’t ask them to leave! Thus begins the secret (because they don’t want their parents to get caught in the middle) plan to overwhelm the Beiderman with kindness and crafts and cooking and music and anything else they can think of that may make him change his mind. Will it work? As each of their well-intentioned plans go wrong, the kids despair. They only have eleven days and counting to make the Beiderman realize how wonderful they are…
The audio recording for The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is perfect! The narrator, Robin Miles, has a wonderful voice for both children and adults. She does a great job creating the voices of people of many different ages from a variety of cultures with accents and cadence. And each of the Vanderbeeker children sounds different as well, which isn’t always easy to do.
I would highly recommend The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, as both a book and an audio recording. Fans of The Penderwicks, the Melendys, and The Moffats will love these siblings just as much. The kids run from age 4 though age 13, so the book is probably best for third through fifth grade. The audio could be enjoyed by all ages…parents will probably appreciate the Vanderbeeker children and their desperate quest to save their home just as much as their kids do.
Some similar stories (besides the ones listed above) to read or listen to if you liked The Vanderbeekers:
Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager
Savvy by Ingrid Law
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
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So if you’re looking for a family story with siblings you’d like to have, look no further than the Vanderbeekers!
If you would like help finding this book or getting any suggestions for other books to read, just ask one of our librarians. We love to help people find books!