The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden — Review

Thought for the Day:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. “

~ Winston Churchill ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

The post HERE by Romy Sommer on Jami Gold’s blog may be the best I’ve ever seen on writing the dreaded synopsis.

My critique group says I am a grammar Nazi, a mantle I wear proudly. I see tons of mistakes in punctuating dialogue and was happy to find the post HERE from reedsy on just that topic.

If you would like to raise the tension in your scenes while you are revising, Janice Hardy at Fiction University has a great post HERE that will help you ramp things up.

Some years ago, my sisters and I decided we were all at an age when we neither need nor want anything, so rather than sending each other gifts, we would make an extra donation to our favorite charity in each other’s names. I think it’s a perfect tradition for our family, and we all feel good about it. My friend Darlene Beck-Jacobson posted a list on her blog of companies that give back in some way when you shop with them. It’s a way to get a feel-good bang for your buck. HERE is the link to Darlene’s post. I REALLY love #8 on her list.  And HERE is a link to another list of companies from Buzzfeed that give back when you buy their products. You have to ignore a bunch of ads, but the list is good and might well be worth it to you.

The+Vanderbeekers+and+the+Hidden+Garden,+Final+CoverI am going to take the next couple weeks off and concentrate on family and the holidays. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with lots of family time and relaxation. In that vein, I will tell you about a very sweet family book that, although it is not set in the winter season, will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. Here is the review of The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser that I wrote for the Tulsa Book Review.

The Vanderbeeker children — Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney (Isa is away at music camp) — are facing a dreary summer. But everything changes when beloved neighbor Mr. Jeet suffers a stroke, and he and Miss Josie are at the hospital for days and days. Mother goes, but the children aren’t allowed. The kids decide they want to build a community garden, something Mr. Jeet and Miss Josie have longed for, in time for Mr. Jeet’s return home. They break into a piece of barren land next to the church and make this their project. They receive help from many in the neighborhood (it takes a village) and create something wonderful, but evil Mr. Huxley has other plans for the lot.

Karina Yan Glaser

Karina Yan Glaser has written a perfectly charming story that has a very old-fashioned feel to it, yet is set in the Harlem of today. The characters are well-rounded and very credible, the adventures are fun and exciting, and the story somewhat heart-wrenching. It’s nice to see the warm, caring relationships between children and the adults, both family and neighbors, in their lives. This kids cause realistic problems and make realistic mistakes, yet come up with solutions.

There will be no giveaway this week.  I am giving the nice hardbound copy I received for review to the library at my granddaughter’s charter school. They have a tiny budget and really need books. Check back in January. I may have a giveaway then. If you are reading this in your email, please click HERE to get to my blog, then click on the title of the post, and leave a comment. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.


12 thoughts on “The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden — Review”

  1. this sounds like a great story – gardens, a villain, and problems galore. I love your idea of donating the book – that’s where most of my copies end up: underfunded libraries and schools.


  2. I read the first book about this family and hope to read more as they are so endearing and fun. Family stories are THE BEST. Happy holidays and enjoy your family time.


  3. I’ve not read any of the Vanderbeekers stories. I must rectify that situation and this charming story sound like a good place to start. The setting and characters pulled me in.
    Yes, the post on writing a synopsis was excellent. I have one now I’m working on and it’s in the ‘blah’ stage. Now I have a plan to make it better. Happy holidays, Rosi!


  4. What a clever story idea. I love the altruistic intent of the children and the support of the community. But the dark Mr. Huxley sounds like a great character that will challenge them to do their best. Adding this to my list.
    Enjoy your holidays. Wore my banned books socks to the Met Opera HD performance with opera friends and had fun showing them off. Love the site and the philanthropic work they do.


  5. Hope your holidays have been fun with your family and friends.

    I have not started this series yet- but I have had it on my list since I first heard of it. Sounds like a series I will really enjoy. Going to go request it from my library right now before I forget. 🙂 (Just did it and a copy is on the way to my library- yay).


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