Cover image for The Harlem Charade / Natasha Tarpley.
The Harlem Charade / Natasha Tarpley.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, 2018.
Physical Description:
297 p. ; 19 cm.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
TAR Paperback Junior Mystery Fiction

On Order




Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family's bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can't tell anyone who she really is. Elvin's living on Harlem's cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked.

When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin's grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune -- one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don't find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved neighborhood will ever be the same...

In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, debut novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home.

Author Notes

Natasha Tarpley is the author of the bestselling picture book I Love My Hair! and other acclaimed titles for children and adults. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, among other awards. When she is not writing books, Ms. Tarpley can usually be found reading them. She has also taken up the cruel and unusual hobby of running marathons. Ms. Tarpley is the cofounder of Voonderbar! Media, a multicultural children's book publishing and media company. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Tarpley (Destiny's Gift) introduces a diverse trio of 12-year-olds trekking through the streets of Harlem to solve an increasingly complicated mystery. Jin, whose Korean grandparents run a bodega, is intrigued by the stealthy good deeds of an African-American girl, Alex, who is ashamed of her family's wealth and keeps it secret. Jin contrives to work with Alex on a school project; circumstances quickly throw the girls together with tiny brown-skinned, dreadlocked Elvin, newly arrived from Berkeley, whose grandfather was assaulted and is in a coma. As the threesome focuses on figuring out who attacked him, their relationship evolves from an uneasy alliance to a warm fellowship as clues lead them to uncover layers of local corruption. The fast-paced story takes readers to landmarks such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and St. Nicholas Park, as the amateur detectives learn about the neighborhood's history in the tumultuous 1960s. While the history lessons are occasionally a bit heavy-handed, Tarpley creates a strong sense of Harlem's rich past and present, conveys the importance of art, and raises thoughtful questions about service and justice. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.