Book cover: Harlem Charadeby Natasha Tarpley
Scholastic, 2017
297 pages
Grades 4-7

Jin is a 7th grader getting through school and helping at her family’s bodega. Alex is on a mission to help the community in an effort to find who she is outside of her wealthy family. Elvin is living on the streets after an attack leaves his grandfather in the hospital.

Brought together by chance, these three set off on an adventure to solve the mystery of Elvin’s grandfather’s attack.

Along the way, the history of Harlem and the mystery of missing masterpieces lead them to discoveries that will change things in ways they could never have imagined.

On its surface, this is a story about three kids playing detective to try to find missing paintings by a famous Harlem painter and friend of Elvin’s grandfather. Elvin’s grandfather is a former member of an artistic collective known as the Invisible 7 that worked to celebrate and preserve the culture of Harlem.

As the kids work to solve the mystery of the missing paintings, they find themselves wading through information about a proposed Harlem amusement park. The city council member leading the charge on this project wants to find the paintings to bring legitimacy to the park, while the neighborhood is fighting to preserve the city.

Harlem Charade will engage young readers, while introducing them to the ideas of radical art, art as protest, and the battle between preservation and advancement in communities.