|photo: Corey Hayes
Karina Yan Glaser is the author of the Vanderbeeker series and the standalone middle-grade novel A Duet for Home. She is a contributing editor for Book Riot and lives in Harlem in New York City with her husband, two kids, and an assortment of rescue animals and houseplants. One of her proudest achievements is raising kids who can't go anywhere without a book. The seventh and final book in the Vanderbeeker series is The Vanderbeekers Ever After (Clarion Books).
Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:
The Vanderbeekers are a family of seven living in Harlem along with many pets, weathering life's ups and downs together with joy, heart, and humor.
On your nightstand now:
I am currently reading Ducks: Two Years on the Oil Sands, a graphic memoir by Kate Beaton. It's geared for readers 16-up, and I love how beautiful Kate's art is, and how she brings us into her life as a young college graduate looking to pay off her student debt by working in Canada's rich oil sands. While the pay is good, life there is harsh and unforgiving, and it doesn't help that Kate is one of very few women working there.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin! I was like Mary Anne, but I wanted to be like Stacey or Claudia. My favorite book in the series was New York, New York! (Super Special Edition #6). I also loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. You might sense a theme in my favorite books--they were all set in New York City.
Your top five authors:
First off, I love everything Jacqueline Woodson writes. My favorite is Brown Girl Dreaming. It's brilliant in audiobook form--Jackie reads it herself and it is perfect. Rebecca Stead captures the middle-grade voice in such a brilliant way; my favorite of her books is A List of Things that Will Not Change. Gary D. Schmidt made me fall in love with middle-grade books, and I reread The Wednesday Wars every year and cry over that story.
I love each and every graphic novel that Victoria Jamieson has written and illustrated. She captures middle school in such an authentic and funny way. Rita Williams-Garcia can write like no one else. After reading A Sitting in St. James, I bought a bunch more copies to share with my friends and family.
Book you've faked reading:
Probably J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye? I had to read that in high school English class, and I could not get into it.
Book you're an evangelist for:
All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat. I read that book in one afternoon and instantly recommended it to everyone I knew. Even though I knew the ending, I was utterly enthralled with each page!
Book you've bought for the cover:
Hello NY: An Illustrated Love Letter to the Five Boroughs by Julia Rothman. I will pretty much buy any book about New York City, and this one is a favorite. I love books that capture the essence of New York City and the people who live here. I also love Every Person in New York by Jason Polan.
Book you hid from your parents:
I was lucky that my mom didn't really keep track of what I was reading. I don't really think I had to hide any books from her!
Book that changed your life:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I read this book so many times as a middle schooler. There is a part in the beginning where Francie is stepping into the public library and promising herself that one day, she will have a desk just like the one in the library, and a row of freshly sharpened pencils for writing, and a bowl with flowers, and so many books. And I held that passage in the book like a prayer when I was growing up, because that was what I wanted for myself. As I went through middle school and high school, I had that concrete goal for myself that helped me through a lot of difficult times.
Favorite line from a book:
"Someday we will become something we haven't even yet imagined." --Yuyi Morales, from her picture book Dreamers.
Five books you'll never part with:
How about 500 books? Okay, fine, five. But this is really tough!
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro
Ashley Bryan's Puppets by Ashley Bryan
Devotions by Mary Oliver
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. I remember reading this on a (very) rare weekend away when my kids were young. My husband and I rented an Airbnb room in Lancaster, Pa., and it was snowy and cold. I remember picking up The Girl Who Drank the Moon and already knowing that I would love it. I spent the day reading in bed and it was all very cozy and happy and restful. Whenever I see the book, I think about that peaceful afternoon.