by Paul Flelschman
Paul Fleischman (born 1952) is an American writer of children's books. He and his father Sid Fleischman have both won the Newbery Medal from the American Library Association recognizing the year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children". Newbery-winning author Paul Fleischman uses thirteen speakers to bring to life a community garden's founding and first year. The book's short length, diverse cast, and suitability for adults as well as children have led it to be used in countless one-book reads in schools and in cities across the country.
Arraying different voices like threads on a loom, Fleischman (Bull Run) weaves a seamless tale of the advent of a garden in urban Cleveland and how it unites a community. Here Fleischman slips with equal ease into the voices of a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl grieving for the father she never knew; a retired peace activist; a shopkeeper from Delhi; a dedicated British nurse; a 39-year-old Korean widow and crime victim hesitantly rejoining the world; a pregnant Mexican teenager; and seven other equally diverse characters. Fleischman carefully adds texture upon texture, crafting his story with wry humor and lustrous imagery: dead leaves reappear as the winter snows melt away ""like a bookmark showing where you'd left off""; beans inadvertently uprooted are laid back in the ground ""as gently as sleeping babies."" The story's quiet beauty unfurls effortlessly--and lingers after the final page has been turned.