Saturday, October 14, 2017

This weekend- Living in the City!

33413919Glaser, Karina Yan. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
October 3rd 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

The Vanderbeekers family of five children, parents, dog and rabbit have lived on two floors in a brownstone in Harlem. The father grew up in the same neighborhood. Just before Christmas, however, their landlord, Mr. Beiderman, decides not to renew their lease, and they have to move right after Christmas. This is a problem, because the family has gotten a reduced rate because the father acts as the superintendent, and the rent on anything large enough for the family would be prohibitive. They may have to move out of the city! Hyacinth, twins Isa and Jessie, Laney and Oliver all have plans to persuade the reclusive landlord to change his mind, even circulating a petition in their neighborhood. They have lots of friends nearby-- the Castlemans, who run a bakery and have a son the age of the twins; Mr. Jeet and Miss Jessie, who live upstairs and are like grandparents; even the postman has been working in the neighborhood longer than the father has been alive and brings treats for the dog. Of course, other things are occurring while the family is trying to pack up for the move, and they plan to celebrate their last Christmas in style. Will a miracle occur so that they can stay?
Strengths: This had a Melendy Family vibe, but updated for the new millenium. I love the cover, and the idea of living in the city sounds much more appealing than living there actually would be. The close knit neighborhood is wonderful, and the industriousness of the children is charming.
Weaknesses: If the family had to be out of the apartment in a few days, wouldn't they have another one lined up? A mover consulted? Lots of plans made? This struck me as unrealistic; if Mr. Beiderman did rescind his nonrenewal at the last minute, it would still be problematic. This will not bother students, but it bothered me. Also, it is not helpful to portray someone who has lost family as a crazy recluse who can't move on with his life and, in fact, wants to punish others for his pain. That bothered me the most. People move on. There's really no other choice.
What I really think: Since stories set in New York City gather dust on my shelves, I will wait until the end of the year to see if I can purchase this.

34593617Rosinsky, Lisa. Inevitable and Only
October 10th 2017 by Boyds Mills Press
ARC from the publisher

Acadia has always gotten along better with her father than her mother, especially now that her mother is in administration at the Quaker school she attends while her father still runs a used bookstore and cooks vegan dinners for the family in their Baltimore home. When Cadie finds out that her father has another daughter a few months older than she is, and that Elizabeth's mother has passed away and Elizabeth is coming to live with them, she's afraid it will mean bad things for her family. The transition isn't horrible, but Elizabeth is very religious and preppy, and doesn't quite fit in to Cadie's hipster world. (Her parents lived in a cooperative house, and the children at Cadie's school are named things like Raven, Heron and Zephyr.) Will her parents be able to overcome the past and bring the family together?
Strengths: I'd probably buy this for high school, but it was more of a young adult book, but without enough sweet romance for my girls who want older books. Nothing objectionable, though, and I enjoyed it.
Weaknesses: Hippie parents? Cadie would have been born about 2000, and her parents were very young, so they were born about 1980? Communist grandparents? I got stuck on the generational math of this one. We'll just go with hipster parents and move along.
What I really think: I'd buy this for high school but will pass for middle school, mainly on account of the vast amount of the book concerned with putting on Much Ado About Nothing.

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