'June 29, 1999'


Editor's note: Close encounters with farm produce may be the result of one girl's science experiment.

The place is Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. The year is 1999. On May 11, after months of careful research and planning, Holly Evans launches vegetable seedlings into the sky.

On May 18, the young scientist reports on her experiment. Holly intends to study the effects of extraterrestrial conditions on vegetable growth and development. She expects the seedlings to stay aloft for several weeks before returning to earth.

Her classmates are speechless.

The date is June 29. Shortly after sunrise, a member of the Billings, Montana, Moose Lodge, hiking through the Rocky Mountains, makes a startling discovery.

Robert Bernabe is in a daze when he returns to camp. All he can say for the next several hours is, "TURNIPS!"

All over the country, the skies fill with vegetables.

Cucumbers circle Kalamazoo.

Lima beans loom over Levittown.

Artichokes advance on Anchorage.

Parsnips pass by Providence.

And broccoli lands with a big bounce in Holly Evans's backyard.

In Ottumwa, Iowa, Tony Kramer emerges from his barn and shouts for joy. "At last, the blue ribbon at the state fair is mine!"

By midafternoon, all vegetables float safely to the ground.

Except for the peppers. For some reason, they need a little help.

TV news channels broadcast twenty-four-hour coverage of the "airborne vegetal event." Cauliflower carpets California, spinach blankets Greenwich, and arugula covers Ashtabula.

Holly is puzzled. Arugula is not part of her experiment.

Vegetables become very big business. Peas from Peoria are shipped down the Mississippi to Mobile in exchange for eggplant.

Real estate booms in North Carolina.

Avocados bolster Vermont's economy.

Potatoland is wisely abandoned.

The Big Apple is renamed the Big Rutabaga.

Arugula, eggplant, avocado and now rutabaga. As the list of vegetables that Holly did not plant grows longer, she concludes that the giant specimens are not the results of her experiment.

More curious than disappointed, Holly asks herself, "What happened to my vegetables?"

"And whose broccoli is in my backyard?"

The place is the ionosphere. On June 29, the Arcturian starcruiser Alula Borealis was touring its sixth planet in four days, and the captain had just pointed out the fjords of Norway off the port side.

In the galley an assistant fry cook accidentally jettisoned the entire food supply. As their vegetables drifted toward the small blue plant below, everyone on board had the same thought: Where would their supper come from?

Excerpted from the book JUNE 29, 1999. Text and Illustrations copyright c 1992 by David Wiesner. Reprinted by permission of Clarion Books, an imprint of the Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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