THE HARLEM CHARADE by Natasha Tarpley
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 8 - 12
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The worlds of three Harlem kids collide in an intriguing historical mystery.

Jin spends most afternoons minding Halmoni and Harabeoji's bodega until a mysterious black girl from her class sticks a free MetroCard to a jar of pickles. Cautious but intrigued, the Korean-American girl confronts Alexandra at school to try and join in on the secret acts of charity. Although Alex has enjoyed her independent, low-key philanthropy, meeting Jin helps her expand her good deeds around the neighborhood. On their way to drop food off at the homeless shelter, a small black boy in an oversized coat attempts to steal a loaf of bread. Elvin's failed bread-heist introduces him to two new, generous friends. When he shares that his grandfather fell into a coma after an attack in the community garden where a rare painting was found, the trio sets out to unearth the truth. Tarpley welds the past and present perceptions of Harlem in her latest book. Jin, Elvin, and Alex cherish their community while respecting their different approaches to justice for its residents. The history, urban planning, and out-of-touch politics wrapped around the neighborhood can be applied to any inner city. The young detectives' curiosity, passion, and belief in one another carry the plot smoothly from start to finish.

A story that motivates justice and inspires kindness, this will have readers hoping for another outing with these appealing protagonists. (author’s notes) (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-545-78387-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2016


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