by Paul Fleischman
How It All Goes Down
Get ready for a veggie-filled journey across one single year. Yep, this book takes place within one year, and it all starts on a super cold April day in Cleveland, Ohio.
So one day, this little Vietnamese girl named Kim plants some lima beans in a vacant lot on Gibb Street. And these beans have a ripple effect like you wouldn't believe. First there's Ana. She's the nosy neighbor who thinks Kim just planted something illegal, so goes and digs up the beans. Then Ana feels so bad that she gets her neighbor, Wendell, to fix the beans and help them to grow.
And this is when things really get interesting. You see, Wendell doesn't just help Kim out. He also thinks that maybe he should plant something of his own. So now we've got two gardeners in the vacant lot: Kim and Wendell. See what we mean? That ripple effect is on the move.
Over time, the weather starts to warm up and more folks come out to garden. We meet Gonzalo and his great uncle, Tío Juan, who hail from Guatemala and bond over their gardening adventures. Then Leona works to make the garden trash-free, and Sam tries to think of ways to bring more water into the lot. When Sae Young joins in on the garden, she helps make the water-collecting dreams a reality. It looks like we've got quite the friendly community garden on our hands.
But all great plans have their hiccups. So while all these good things are happening in the garden, we have a couple bumps in the road as well. For starters, there's still some segregation in the garden, with people from different races and cultures keeping to themselves. Things also get a bit dicey when people put up fences between their own patches of land. Plus, some of our gardeners are having a tough time with their plants. Just ask Virgil, a kid whose family comes from Haiti. He and his dad plant lettuce, but it starts dying the moment it comes up. And then there's Curtis who's having a great time growing his tomatoes, until some of them are stolen.
Over time, the good stuff starts outweighing the bad. In fact, everyone starts to become friends. When Nora and Mr. Myles join the garden, a rainstorm helps them to make a bunch of new chums. And when Maricela, a pregnant teenager, is forced to plant seeds in the garden, she ends up finding comfort in her new pal Leona. To boot, Amir gets to know his neighbors and Florence just loves watching it all happen.
When winter comes, it wipes out the garden and everyone has to abandon their plants for a while. But don't worry: when it's April again, we see Kim back out with her lima beans. We're crossing our fingers that she'll start the community garden up again… and again and again and again.