The Harlem Charade
Written by Natasha Tarpley
Harlem is a community of many neighborhoods flavored by deeply ingrained history and worldwide cultures. But this story is as universal as hope, friendship and loyalty. Three kids get involved in solving the mysteries of an attacked grandfather and some missing paintings.
Good guys and bad guys are sometimes hard to distinguish, but friendship and the patient unraveling of clues are reminiscent of Balliet’s, ChasingVermeer. Amid school projects, secrets kept from parents and everyday chores at the bodega, Jin and Alex, two most unlikely friends, protect homeless Elvin from the streets as well as the authorities. Urban development versus protecting the community is a major theme. Teachers, librarians and parents may want to discuss issues of social justice, while readers will be in a hurry to find those missing paintings from those long talked about sixties.
Monetary worth is paled in comparison to the history protected in the paintings as Jin and Alex realize sometimes it takes an object to prove history did happen the way the story says it did. Tarpley’s book is very well done and recommended for all collections. It would be a valuable book club addition as it is a truly cross curricular look at Harlem during the explosive sixties through the eyes of artists who lived it. Many discussion groups would become engrossed in the story and it would fulfill many learning objectives.
- Title: The Harlem Charade
- Author: Natasha Tarpley
- Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2017
- Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
- Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
- ISBN: 978-0-545-78387-3
- Genre: Fiction
- Grade Level: 3 to 7
- Extras: Notes on actual locations mentioned in the book.