by Paul Fleischman
Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
Exposition (Initial Situation)
Let's Get Planting
Kim plants some lima bean seeds in a vacant lot one day. She doesn't know it yet, but this little action soon starts up a community garden for the neighborhood. Not too long after, other characters like Ana and Wendell get involved. Looks like the community garden is about to start growing.
Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)
Sprout, Seeds, Sprout! Fight, People, Fight!
Some of the plants are growing and some are dying. Plus, as more and more people join in on the community garden, the place starts to get crowded. Some characters lend a helping hand. Others put up barbed wire to keep out their neighbors. Sheesh. All this action sets the stage for some conflicts: Will the garden keep growing or die in the summer heat? Will the neighbors learn to get along? Only time will tell.
Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)
Three Cheers for Community!
Here's the truth: some of the plants grow really well (like Curtis's tomatoes) and some die (like Virgil's lettuce). But amid these triumphs and heartbreaks, the folks in the garden really start to get along. In fact, many of them actually become friends and help each other out. Still, do you get the feeling that this part of the book isn't super climactic? Us too. There isn't one moment that we can point to and say "Yep, that's the turning point right there." Instead, the characters come together slowly over time. But that's just the way of it, Shmoopers.
Beware Plants: The End is Nigh
People are still getting along in the garden. The characters even have an impromptu party where they share lots of their fruits and veggies. But the weather is getting colder so this lets us know that growing season is winding down, just like this book.
How to Garden with Icicles
After a cool fall, the garden gets covered with snow for a long and freezing winter. This means there's definitely nothing growing and no gardeners out and about. Finally, winter passes and it's April again. Kim is back in the lot with her lima beans. Sweet, huh? But if you're feeling like things are unresolved, then we're with you. Here's some food for thought: maybe that's part of the point. After all, this garden is going to grow and die again year after year.