Project Description



A Novel in Verse

by Juanita Havill
illustrated by Stanislawa Kodman

This verse novel for young readers uses rich, evocative language to deliver a powerful story of the extraordinary magic that occurs every day when ordinary people work together.

Everything about Berneetha is big―especially her dreams. And when Berneetha decides to create a community garden on a vacant lot, twelve-year-old Kate Sibley just has to help make that dream a reality. At first the neighbors think Kate and Berneetha are crazy, but slowly a community begins to grow, just as the garden does.

But just as the garden and Kate are both beginning to bloom, a sign goes up: a parking garage will be built on the lot. Can Kate and Berneetha and their friends keep the garden and the dream alive?

Award-winning author Juanita Havill’s story of a community garden in an urban neighborhood is told through the eyes of an impressionable girl in a series of richly detailed prose poems. The result is an affecting, lasting portrait of community life and the power of shared commitment and hope.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-441-9
Publication Date: 4/1/2008
Page Count: 160
Size: 5-1/2 ̎ x 7-1/2 ̎
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Price: $7.99
ISBN: 978-1-56145-575-1
Publication Date: 4/1/2011
Page Count: 160
Size: 5-1/2 ̎ x 7-1/2 ̎
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English
AR Level: 4.8
F&P: S, Gr 4, Genre RF
Themes: Community, Cooperation, Gardening, Friendship
BISAC 1: JUV014000 JUVENILE FICTION / Girls & Women
BISAC 2: JUV039020 JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Adolescence
BISAC 3: JUV039060 JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Friendship


“There’s more than just a message here; there’s a real story… With quiet scribbly drawings of the tendrils of snap beans, wild dancing feet, and lacy leaves, the pages depict the power of working as a community.” ―Booklist

“This novel in verse shows how an inner-city community garden brings neighbors together.…the target audience will hear the freshness in Kate’s voice as she delivers a message of hope and resilience.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Well-placed line drawings and an abundance of white space showcase Havill’s fluid verse.” ―School Library Journal

“Penciled illustrations add touches of whimsy and charm to the story…a nice read.” ―Kirkus Reviews

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“Bright and engaging verse…This book will would work well for both whole-class work or in the hands of a student in need of a boost.” ―Library Media Connection

“Whimsical illustrations, fast-moving narrative, and extensive white space make it a good choice…it drives home the importance of positive personal action in effecting community change.” ―VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

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Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book ―Chicago Public Library, 2008

Young Adult Top Forty ―Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, 2009

Green Prize for Sustainable Literature Awards (Youth Fiction Award) ―Santa Monica Public Library, 2009

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Charlotte Award suggested reading list (Intermediate) ―NYSRA, 2009

Keystone to Reading Book Award (Intermediate Nominee) ―Keystone State Reading Association, 2009-2010

Carol D. Reiser Book Award for Inspiring Future Volunteers ―Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta, 2009

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Meet the Author

Juanita Havill is the author of more than thirty books for children, including Grow; I Heard it From Alice Zucchini;Jamaica’s Find (Reading Rainbow Review Book, IRA-CBC Children’s Choice, and the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award); Jamaica Tag-Along (American Bookseller Pick of the Lists); and Sato and the Elephants (NCSS Notable Trade Book for Young People). She lives and gardens in Arizona.

Meet the Illustrator

Stanislawa Kodman is known best by her cats, who say she spends way too much time drawing, playing with letterforms, and watching movies, instead of entertaining them during their few waking minutes. The pressures of a muse are great but such is the life of a cat.