Review: The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

Book: The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (2018)
Author: Karina Yan Glaser
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars

vanderbeeker-hidden-gardenBasic plot: The Vanderbeekers are back. But this time, while Isa’s away at music camp, her siblings are bored. That is until Mr. Jeet ends up in the hospital. Now the kids want to do something and they latch onto making a community garden in a nearby empty lot. But the horrible Herman Huxley is always there hanging around, and his dad is stirring up lots of trouble…


1) I love, love, love the big family of five kids… although, it’s kind of only four kids since Isa’s away for most of the book.

2) I was so happy to see their relationship with Mr. Beiderman (from the first book in the series) has grown! Yay! And I really like how he’s part of the solution to their problem with the garden.

3) Herman Huxley! This character (I don’t remember him from the first book) was one of the best parts of this book. I like how he’s introduced as being the essence of everything the Vanderbeeker kids can’t stand. And how he’s connected to Mr. Huxley who’s even worse trouble when it comes to the garden. [**Minor Spoiler] I like how he bonds with Hyacinth over knitting! [end Spoiler]

4) Another part I liked had to do with Jessie’s dream to go to science camp. Oliver figures this out, about halfway through the book. What I really liked was her sacrifice; and how that sacrifice comes back to bless her. (Thanks to Oliver!)

5) I enjoyed all the references to books like The Secret Garden and Mandy. And all the bits about gardening. One of the more memorable scenes for me is when the friend offers the Vanderbeekers the bagged soil that’s sitting around her apartment. I knew that wasn’t going to end well!


1) The cover of the book makes it seem like the story is set in the autumn. It’s not. It’s set in summer (June and July). Don’t ask me why the leaves have already turned orange.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – A good sequel to the first Vanderbeeker book. This is definitely a quieter book than most. If you enjoy stories about big groups of siblings (like the Penderwicks), then this book is for you.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

19 thoughts on “Review: The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

  1. I really enjoyed this book as well. I love the family and love books that have large quirky families. I hadn’t noticed the trees on the cover, but I suspect the leaves are turned because it makes for a more attractive book. Thanks for the nice reminders.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I keep seeing these books and have wondered if I should give them a try. You sound so enthusiastic that perhaps I should. What’s interesting is that right before I started reading the post I noticed the autumn look of the cover and thought how fantastically the designer captured the fall look. Then to see your comments and find out that it’s set in the summer? Hmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Fall Reading Bingo Challenge / November | Of Maria Antonia

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