Monday, November 27, 2017

Tarpley, Natasha. The Harlem Charade.

Tarpley, Natasha.  The Harlem Charade.    Scholastic Press  2017  297p  $16.99      Hardback  ISBN 978-0-545-78387-3  ms  Realistic fiction  E-BN

Set in Harlem, this novel features three youths who solve a mystery and save the neighborhood from a shifty developer.  Jin (Chinese) and Elvin and Alex (African American) discover lost paintings that were hidden for years.  They follow clues while searching for information about who attacked Elvin’s grandfather.  Along the way, they learn about the vibrant, historic artistic life of Harlem and the valuable lesson of the importance of preserving history to ensure a fulfilling future.

A politician wants to tear down historic neighborhood buildings to build a glitzy amusement park that gives only lip service to the past.  The youths uncover his true motives and save the neighborhood.
The plot is complicated, with many twists and false leads.  Interwoven into this mystery are the personal relationships among the main characters.  Each learns to grow into his or her true self.  Filled with real locations and references to a few real events, this novel brings Harlem to life.  The history and fiction are skillfully interwoven.  It is beautifully written, with fast-paced action, and the reader cannot wait to reach the conclusion.  It would be an excellent purchase for middle-school libraries, and the best this reviewer has read in a long time. 

Summary: This is the story of young people coming together to solve a mystery and save a neighborhood by discovering some of its past.  Themes of friendship, loyalty, and community in an action-packed adventure.  Grades 5-10. 

Harlem, N.Y.-Fiction  

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