Four siblings and their neighbors come together to prevail over gentrification.
The Vanderbeeker children live in Harlem, and one of their beloved neighbors, the elderly Mr. Jeet, has just suffered a second stroke and landed in the hospital. Distraught, the children decide to turn their grief into something beautiful to welcome Mr. Jeet home with, in hopes that it will also bring some joy to Mr. Beiderman, a crotchety neighbor still grieving his wife’s and daughter’s deaths six years ago. Their project: a garden. They have 17 days to turn a dirty, abandoned church lot into an oasis, but the father of brother Oliver’s sworn enemy and a mysterious real estate developer together present an obstacle. Many pieces must fall into place and many people must band together to make the Vanderbeekers’ dream a reality in under three weeks. This companion novel to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (2017) stands on its own for readers who haven’t encountered the first book. The plot and endearing (and diverse) characters are reminiscent of the classics from the 1940s and 1950s but with refreshing and realistic attention to socio-economics at work. The Vanderbeeker kids are biracial; Mama has “straight black hair” and Papa’s is “big and unruly,” with the kids “a surprising blend,” though all different one to the other.
Perfect for individual reading while tucked away in a treehouse or as a family read-aloud. (Fiction. 8-12)