The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers are back, with all the humor and good-heartedness that makes their family so loveable.

The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found by Karina Yan Glasser. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020, 347 pages.

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12

Recommended for: ages 8-14

How happy we were to find the Vanderbeekers four years ago! The five siblings living with their parents in a comfortable, if slightly crowded, brownstone apartment in the heart of Harlem, were a happy yet realistic picture of love that triumphs over conflict. They’re back for an autumn story of more challenges. Twins Jessie and Isa are now 14, baby Lainey is 6, Oliver is 11 and shy Hyacinth 8. In walks Orlando, a nephew of Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet, who’s become Jessie’s good friend and science project partner. Orlando, it soon emerges, has a problem mother who periodically disappears, and that’s why he’s living with his much older relatives upstairs. The Vanderbeekers have grown attached to Orlando, but what if his mother comes back? Or what if she doesn’t? Will he have to move far away?

As in all the Vanderbeeker books, some genuine sorrow shades the brightness. Each family member has some lesson to learn or hangup to overcome. Orlando’s family situation is the ongoing issue, and in it we see a sensitive portrait a young person’s complex feelings toward an irresponsible parent. Other plot developments include a death in the neighborhood that becomes a celebration of good life. Fans of the series will enjoy seeing characters from previous books reappear, however briefly—a reminder that life doesn’t just “go on,” but expands and deepens with every new experience and every new friend. Thank goodness, the Vanderbeekers are going on, too—we can anticipate their next adventure in Fall 2021.

Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 5
  • Artistic/literary value: 4

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Janie

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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