Chapter One: Seeds of Hope
Addy, Momma, and Poppa are working in the small plot they have rented to plant vegetables and flowers in. They hope to resell their produce to raise money so Poppa can go back to their old plantation and look for Esther and Sam. Addy thinks that weeding the garden is the toughest work because of how stubbornly the weeds refuse to be pulled. When Momma suggests they rest and eat a picnic supper, Addy is reminded of when she was enslaved because she was not allowed to rest then. While they are eating supper, Addy asks her family what they would ask God if they had the chance. Momma says she would ask what she had to do to reunite their family, and Poppa jokes that he would ask why his daughter asks so many questions. Addy says she would ask why there had to be slavery, and talks about how she hates Master Stevens for tearing her family apart. Momma and Poppa scold Addy for her hatred and bitterness and explain that those feelings are like the weeds in the garden - if you let them grow, they choke out all other things.
After their supper, Addy, Momma, and Poppa finish weeding and begin planting the seeds in their garden. Addy tries to be very careful with them, since seeds are expensive and she knows that they will help reunite her family. Addy asks if she can come back the next day to work in the garden and Poppa reminds her that they are going to a parade the next day to celebrate the soldiers that fought to end slavery. Addy wonders if Sam ever got to be a soldier, and remembers how brave, smart, and funny he was, and how he would always ask her riddles. Momma and Poppa go home because the sun is setting fast, but Addy wants to stay and water her seeds. While she is finishing up, her schoolmate Harriet comes up and mocks Addy for being a plantation girl and for not knowing where her family is, and for not knowing if her brother is a soldier at all. Harriet brags about her uncle whom she knows is a soldier and about all the medals she is sure he has earned.
When Addy was done in the garden, she went back to the boarding house and wrote a letter with information about Uncle Solomon, Auntie Lula, Esther, and Sam to send to the Quaker Aid Society. Addy hoped the letter would get to someone who knew where the rest of her family was.
Chapter Two: Hope and Determination
Before they go to the Grand Review parade, Momma, Poppa, and Addy visit the Quaker Aid Society to send the letter Addy wrote and to see if anyone had sent a reply to the last letter they had send. Mr. Cooper, who worked at the Society, talks about how sad it makes him to know how many families are divided, but compliments the Walkers on their hope and determination to reunite their family.
At the parade, Addy sits on Poppa's shoulders to see the marching band and soldiers. Addy is surprised at how young the soldiers are since some of them look even younger than Sam. Poppa talks to a woman who lost her son in the war about how losing a child is the greatest pain and Addy wonders if Sam might have died in the war. Addy feels envious of Harriet for knowing about her uncle when the Walkers do not even know if Sam was a soldier or if he is even alive.
At church the next day, Addy is impatient for the service to be over so she can go work in the garden. After his sermon, Reverend Drake announces that the church will put on a fair in July to raise money for the wounded, separated families, and widows and orphans who are still suffering from the war's effects.
At the meeting to discuss fund-raising products for the fair, Addy and Sarah are disappointed when they see Harriet come in, because they know it will be hard to work with her. Harriet suggests that the church put on a magic show, and Addy suggests putting on a puppet show with spool puppets. All the other children at the meeting picked Addy's idea over a magic show, which makes Addy feel smug.
When Addy and her parents are walking home from the meeting, the three of them talk about what projects they are going to work on. Addy boasts about her idea beating Harriet's, which disappoints Momma and Poppa who do not like seeing Addy being so prideful. They remind her that the fair is not a contest and ask her to try and make peace with Harriet.
Later that night, Poppa tells Addy that Reverend Drake has promised him some of the money from the church fund-raiser which means that he can leave to go look for Sam and Esther sooner than planned. At first, Addy is excited, but then she starts worrying about the dangers of returning to the plantation and about whether Master Stevens would be angry or not. When Addy asks if Poppa is scared, he tells Addy that slavery is over and that they no longer have a master.
Chapter Three: Healing
The day before the fair, Addy takes a basket of seedlings from their garden to the church. When Harriet sees her coming from the garden, she teases Addy again, but this time Addy does not argue with her, remembering that Momma and Poppa had asked her not to fight with Harriet. Harriet continues teasing Addy, this time insulting Addy's spool puppet and brother. She calls Addy's puppet idea stupid, and throws her puppet down.
The girls' argument gets interrupted when Mrs. Drake comes in and reprimands the girls and reminds them that they are all working for the same cause. She tells the girls that the three of them will have to work together during the fair to teach them how to get along.
The next day, Addy was dreading having to work with Harriet, but once she got to the fair she could not help being excited. Poppa gave her three pennies and told her not to forget to have fun at the fair too. When Momma finds out that the church ladies forgot the seedlings, Addy offers to go back to the church and get them. When Addy gets to the church, she hears crying and goes to investigate. Addy finds Harriet crying in a broom closet. Addy asks what was wrong, and Harriet blurts out that her uncle is dead. Addy realizes that Harriet is not that different from her and tries to comfort her. Harriet says that nothing matters now since her uncle is dead and that all the children probably hate her anyway, but Addy convinces her that it is not too late to change, and put away their rivalry and jealousy. Addy says that everyone needs to work together and help each other, and asks if Harriet would take charge of the money box because of how good Harriet is at arithmetic. The two girls help carry the basket of seedlings to the fair, and Sarah and Addy start the puppet show. Addy uses her soldier spool puppet to tell riddles like the ones she learned from her brother and Sarah plays music on the slide whistles Poppa made. Towards the end of the day, Addy notices a girl wearing a very nice dress but carrying a beat-up carpet bag acting suspiciously. When she goes to put some of the money from a puppet sale in the money box, she realizes it is missing and the girl must have stolen it. She asks Sarah to go tell Reverend Drake, and Addy and Harriet run after the girl.
Chapter Four: All for One
Addy and Harriet chase after the thief, but Harriet cannot keep up with her. Addy suggests that the two split up and blow their slide whistles as a signal if they see the girl with the carpetbag. Addy thinks she sees the girl, but when she gets close realizes it is not the same one, and just when she is starting to feel hopeless, she hears Harriet's signal. Addy sees the thief swing the carpet bag at Harriet, knocking her over, and hurries to catch up to the girl. Addy grabs the handle of the carpet bag and holds on so the girl cannot get away. Reverend Drake and some other men come over, and the girl runs off, leaving Addy holding on to the carpetbag. When Reverend Drake opens the carpetbag, he finds three money boxes containing a total of more than fifty dollars. Reverend Drake offers to let some of the other children finish the puppet show since Sarah, Harriet and Addy are probably tired, but the girls want to do one more show since it is easy when they help each other.
During the last puppet show, Addy asks a riddle--what's smaller than a dog but can put a bear on the run? and a tall boy in the audience says that even his little sister knows the answer to that (a skunk). Addy recognizes the voice, and looks into the audience and sees her brother Sam in a soldier's uniform, running to him and holding him tightly. She sees that he is now missing an arm, but Sam tells her not to worry because everything is going to be all right now that they have found each other, and together they go to find their parents. Addy then tells one last riddle--that love is what keeps a family together even when pulled apart.
Looking Back: America Outdoors in 1864
Discusses how people spent time outdoors during the Civil War era. Topics covered:
- The increasing number of immigrants, newly freed people, and farmers that settled in cities.
- Living conditions within cities, with many having very poor sanitation conditions.
- Wealthy people traveling to resorts to escape the cities and cool off during the summer.
- Working class citizens settling in city parks to relax and partake in organized activities.
- Rising demand for cities to have larger parks for people to observe nature and help prevent diseases.
- The large city parks that were constructed in the mid-1800s following the creation of Central Park.
- Monuments and statues that were built to honor those who served during the Civil War.
- Swimming being viewed as an improper activity for women and girls, with few places having separate areas for women and men.
- The rising popularity of sports following the end of the war, with baseball becoming especially popular.
- Struggles for African Americans beginning new lives and trying to find relatives they were separated from due to slavery.