Middle grade novels are one of my favorite kind of books to read. This past week I've read a few gems.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser - is a charming tween novel. The Vanderbeeker family: mom, dad, four daughters and one son- have made a Harlem brownstone their home for years. However, when their landlord, Mr. Beiderman, doesn't renew their lease just before Christmas, the kids set about finding a way to change his mind. The plot is a little predictable, but entirely entertaining and the Vanderbeeker kids are lovable and quirky. Although the kids' plan doesn't go exactly as they wanted, they do finally meet Mr. Beiderman, who has always remained in his apartment, closed off from the world.
This book is a fun read. I am looking forward to sharing it with students but also with my eleven year old.
Lily's Mountain by Hannah Moderow- this is such a heartbreaking novel, but yet I loved it so much. Lily's dad has just died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Although her dad is an experienced climber, he fell into a crevasse and they receive a phone call telling them of the accident. Lily is devastated. And she can't quite believe that her dad is really gone. She and her sister embark on a camping trip to Denali so they can find the place where their dad died, encountering danger along the way.
I loved Moderow's ability to share how Lily dealt with her grief, the beauty of the Alaskan setting, and the bits of hope that Lily found in life.
Both of these books kept me entertained and with each I was sad to turn the last page. If you are in the mood for a quick read, I'd check either (or both) of these out.