The Vanderbeekers Make a Wish

About the Book:

Title: The Vanderbeekers Make a Wish
The Vanderbeekers
Karina Yan Glasser
Clarion Books
Release Date: 
September 21, 2021
Children’s Fiction

It’s summer on 141st Street, and the Vanderbeekers are looking forward to Papa’s surprise fortieth birthday party.

But then Papa must leave town to help his best friend and the Vanderbeeker children are surprised to find their maternal grandparents on their doorstep. Grandma is very critical of everything they do. Meanwhile, they find themselves learning more about their papa’s father than ever before, and wishing they could have known him a bit better. Can they learn more about the grandfather they lost and come to appreciate the grandparents they still have while making sure their papa has the best birthday ever?

Book Review:

*happy sigh* Every time I read a Vanderbeeker book. I feel like I always end it with that happy sigh feeling. I don’t think I truly understood what a feel-good book meant until I read this one. The characters are lovely and compelling, and the book tackles real issues with so much heart and grace. And I am so grateful that Ms. Glaser never forgets that she is writing from the perspective of kids and for kids. The children act and think realistically, sometimes very childishly because they’re children! She incorporates issues like racism and grief with a light touch, so children can understand it. But she never loses the light heartedness and hope that’s infused in her story.

The Vanderbeekers are ready for another summer full of fun and laughter starting with Papa’s fortieth birthday party. But then Papa has to leave to help a friend and Mama’s overcritical parents arrive at the Vanderbeeker’s doorstep. While the Vanderbeekers spend more and more time with their grandparents, they miss their Papa’s father even more. Can they learn more about the grandfather they lost and come to appreciate the grandparents they still have while making sure their papa has the best birthday ever?

I loved the storyline in this one, and how we get introduced to new characters! Mama’s parents were definitely interesting, and I loved seeing along with the Vanderbeekers how they weren’t as horrible as it first seemed. They had a lot of hardship in their lives especially because they were immigrants. As an Asian American, I am so grateful that Ms. Glaser shared some of the racism Asians face everyday. And I loved that it was done in such a beautiful way where it didn’t overtake the story. One of my favorite things about the Vanderbeeker books is that being Asian isn’t the only thing about them. They are allowed to be full characters who are Asian, and I think that’s an important distinction. I’m grateful for more authors who are showing that Asians deserve to have their own story on the pages of books. Aunt Penny was a ton of fun too, and I can’t wait to see where her relationship with Beiderman goes!

I enjoyed learning with the Vanderbeekers about their other grandfather too! It was so much fun to see how much this man had touched their community. I loved the message of honoring and remembering the generations before you. I think really for me what sums this series up is that it is full of joy. The problems are real and important, but the book doesn’t make you stressed or sad. It is a joy to read! I would totally recommend this book to elementary schoolers and up. Even though it is technically a kid’s book, I think everyone could enjoy it.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher through Netgalley. All views expressed are only my honest opinion, a positive review was not required.

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