Li’l Sissy, the youngest child in her family, is bursting with enthusiasm and curiosity as she and Brother and Sister help Uncle John in his unique garden. Situated on an excavated city lot between tall buildings in the projects in Brooklyn, N.Y., it’s dubbed “the garden” by the community before any garden even exists. But that changes when Uncle John’s hard work combines with the efforts of the three children—digging, raking, planting, watering, and weeding—to patiently nurture seedlings into mature plants. When a storm hits the city, Li’l Sissy fears the vulnerable plants will be destroyed. But the garden weathers the storm and the rainfall helps it thrive. By summer’s end, the garden has produced so much food there’s enough to feed Li’l Sissy’s cousins and uncles and aunts at a festive barbeque. And there’s even extra produce for all the guests to take some home.
In an author’s note, Bernette Ford writes, “This is an ‘almost’ true story. When I was a little girl in the 1950s, my uncle John lived in the projects in Canarsie, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He and my mother were the youngest of seven surviving siblings born on a plantation in Louisiana where their father worked and was ‘in charge’ of the other Black laborers on the plantation. All of the children had to work in the fields. Everyone eventually left the plantation as young adults, but Mother and John never stopped loving to grow gardens full of food and flowers.”
In this playful, informative children’s picture book, illustrator Frank Morrison’s delightful, dramatic pictures combine with author Bernette Ford’s buoyant, hopeful narrative to celebrate the wonder of nurturing a garden in an unlikely place and the life-giving outcomes of sharing, caring, and community. (Holiday House)