for The Harlem Charade by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
The rich past and present of Harlem is central to this lively, Balliett-esque mystery featuring three diverse young detectives. When Korean American Jin first pairs with African American Alex for a school assignment to explore some dimension of Harlem history, she’s challenged by Alex’s brusque and secretive manner. The two unite over shared interest in the recent discovery of a painting by a Black woman activist artist of the 1960s. African American Elvin, who’s been living on his own after his grandfather’s recent attack and hospitalization, is drawn into their search for the woman’s other paintings—whereabouts unknown. The three seventh-graders begin to unravel the intersecting paths of the recovered painting, the missing art, the attack on Elvin’s grandfather, and the plans of a shady councilman who wants to create Harlem World, a cultural amusement park that will severely impact the lives and livelihoods of many Harlem residents. Their connection deepens as they reveal private concerns: Alex is ashamed of her family’s wealth, Jin fears her grandparents’ bodega is threatened by the proposed amusement park, and Elvin worries about his ill mother. This satisfying mystery also illuminates controversy surrounding an actual Museum of Modern Art Exhibit on Harlem in the late 1960s and spotlights the timeless and timely question at the intersection of cultural identity and art: “Who gets to tell our stories?” (Ages 9-12)
© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2018
WATCHER. SHADOW. FUGITIVE. Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family's bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can't tell anyone who she really is. Elvin's living on Harlem's cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked. When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin's grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune-one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don't find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved neighborhood will ever be the same . . . In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, debut novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home. Praise for The Harlem Charade: * "A story that motivates justice and inspires kindness..." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review "The Harlem Charade links a miltifaceted cast of characters with some of Harlem's thorniest issues, and offers dreams, hope, and plenty of action in the process. Few novels take on the real-life neighborhood issues of gentrification, big money, and the destructive loss of old ways. This book does, and in the process shines a light on the magical and complex history of Harlem and its many brilliant art forms. Tarpley shares Harlem's past and present glory with grace and respect, and in the process offers inspiration to all who would love to see its unique beauty survive." -- Blue Balliett, New York Times bestselling author of Chasing Vermeer Praise for I Love My Hair!: "A very special book about self-acceptance." -- School Library Journal "[A] celebration of African American identity." -- Booklist
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.