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Publishers’ Preview: Debut Authors: Five Questions for Karina Yan Glaser

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine

This interview originally appeared in the July/August 2017 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Summer 2017 Publishers’ Previews: Debut Authors, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a first book. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (two parents, five kids) love their Harlem brownstone — but they’re about to lose their lease! Can the kids soften the landlord in the few days left before Christmas?

Photo: Corey Hayes.

1. Which kid were you?

When I was a kid, I was like Hyacinth. I was quiet and shy, I loved talking to my dog, and I was always in the middle of a craft project. I could also relate to bookworm Oliver, but I never had an awesome walk-in closet/library bedroom like he does (but I always wished for one!).

2. Which kid are you?

I’m still like Hyacinth, but I’ve also turned a little into Isa, who is more organized and loves music.

3. Do you think everybody can eventually be worn down?

Kindness and empathy can go very far in creating connection in most relationships. That’s why I’m a big fan of reading many different types of books and why I admire Gene Luen Yang, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and his “Reading Without Walls” challenge. Reading is one of the best ways for kids (and adults!) to learn about people, cultures, and experiences other than their own, which in turn promotes understanding.

4. What’s your connection to 141st Street?

I’ve lived in Harlem for the past seven years, and I am so happy to call this neighborhood my home. I think about the crossing guards who give high-fives to every kid on their way to school, our neighbors who discuss books around the Little Free Library, and the seniors at the retirement home who enjoy listening to my kids play their violins. That warm neighborhood connection made me want to set this story in Harlem.

5. You’re joining a proud heritage of New York neighborhood stories. Which one is your favorite?

Oh my goodness, I can only choose one? My ultimate favorite is All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. My love for books set in New York City led me to move here for college and never leave.

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