Nine-year-old Kim plants lima beans in an empty, trash-filled lot as a memorial to her Vietnamese father. Her planting is discovered by Anna, a Rumanian immigrant who has lived on Gibbs Street in Cleveland for 70 years. This discovery leads to the clearing of the lot and the beginning of a community garden, which grows both plants and relationships. The immigrant families of Gibbs Street are living in the isolation caused by poverty and escalated by cultural and language differences. Through the voices and dialects of 13 of the gardeners, we learn about the day-to-day life of the inner-city poor. The walls of isolation break down among the community members as they discuss gardening, assist each other in transporting water, and watch over each others' precious crops. Fleischman has carefully woven the lives of the characters with the common thread of the garden. His succinct use of language creates physical and personality images of each character. Children and adults will enjoy his short book. Teachers will delight in the first-person narratives as a beginning point for writing assignments. The book could be read aloud to classes as a starting point for research on the problems in big cities or on the building of communities. It will be used by social studies teachers, writing teachers, and teachers of literature.
About the Author
Paul Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California. The son of well-known children's novelist Sid Fleischman, Paul was in the unique position of having his famous father's books read out loud to him by the author as they were being written. This experience continued throughout his childhood. Paul followed in his father's footsteps as an author of books for young readers, and in 1982 he released the book "Graven Images", which was awarded a Newbery Honor citation. In 1988, Paul Fleischman came out with "Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices", an unusually unique collection of poetry from the perspective of insects. This book was awarded the 1989 John Newbery Medal. Factoring in Sid Fleischman's win of the John Newbery Medal in 1987 for his book "The Whipping Boy", Paul and Sid Fleischman became to this day the only father and son authors to both win the John Newbery Medal.