by Paul Fleischman
Stuff as Dreams are Made On. Told in a series of vignettes, the voices of about a dozen different characters describe how a community garden spontaeously arises from a junk-filled vacant lot in an inner-city neighborhood. It starts when a Vietnamese girl plants a handful of lima beans in memory of her father. A few neighbors overlooking the lot are at first suspicious of her activities, but when they see what she's trying to do they feel differently. One lady even comes to water her plants when the girl doesn't show up for a few days. Gradually other people are inspired to grow something as well, scratching out a bare spot in the dirt. A young man who's always seen himself as tough plants tomatoes to woo his girlfriend. A woman plants goldenrod, remembering how her grandmother used it as medicine. A taxi-driver plants lettuce intending to sell it to nearby restaurants. They all have different motives for growing stuff: nostalgia, beauty, food for the table; but end up helping each other out and building a community connected by the garden. I loved how a little girl solved the problem of providing easily-accessible water for the garden. One guy even beats on doors of public officials until he gets the city to come clear the lot of trash and rubble. People start looking out for each other in more ways that just giving advice on growing vegetables, and overcoming their racial differences and language barriers in the act of sharing their produce and flowers. Seedfolks is a wonderful story that I enjoyed very much.
Rating: 3/5 69 pages, 1997