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Seedfolks (1997)

by Paul Fleischman

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2,2571577,005 (4.15)32
One by one, a number of people of varying ages and backgrounds transform a trash-filled inner-city lot into a productive and beautiful garden, and in doing so, the gardeners are themselves transformed.

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» See also 32 mentions

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The ancient Egyptians believed nature could heal and it really does. I truly believe in the power of seeds to bring us together and to soothe the soul.

Inspired by this idea and community urban gardens (and community theater), Paul Fleischman penned the book Seed folk. . It's about a very diverse neighborhood coming together in the making of a community garden. Which is such a lovely idea. Overall, the intent and the message of the book are positive. And I like the idea that this book could be translated easily into a stage play.

However, some of the characters are a bit one-dimensional and the book is dated in its use of language that today would be regarded as racist. Additionally, I often thought, as I read this, that Paul actually has a very negative view of inner city life. That probably isn't the case. It just reads like the work of a white guy.

I think the intention and the message of Seedfolks is something pure and positive (folks of different backgrounds co-existing and mingling through the growth of a community garden in the inner city) but I found the execution to be dated and a bit questionable. ( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
This is a fun book that shows a variety of different perspectives of people that live in the same community. Each chapter is from a new character's point of view, so it is fun as a reader to piece the story together and make connections between all of the chapters. By the end, the reader can see the beautiful full picture that is created by all of the characters.
  CaseyP | Feb 18, 2023 |
A run-down neighborhood full of strangers becomes a community of gardeners. Whether it’s Kim and her Lima beans, Leona and her goldenrod, Curtis and his tomatoes, or Amir and his eggplants. Whether it's Ana and her watchful eye, Virgil and his dream of an eighteen-speed bike, Maricela and her teen pregnancy, all of the characters in this book have a valuable story to share, and the seeds of change are planted to make the community a better place for everyone. ( )
  SKubicek | Feb 2, 2023 |
Using the multiple voices that made Bull Run (1995) so absorbing, Fleischman takes readers to a modern inner-city neighborhood and a different sort of battle, as bit by bit the handful of lima beans an immigrant child plants in an empty lot blossoms into a community garden, tended by a notably diverse group of local residents. It's not an easy victory: Toughened by the experience of putting her children through public school, Leona spends several days relentlessly bulling her way into government offices to get the lot's trash hauled away; others address the lack of readily available water, as well as problems with vandals and midnight dumpers; and though decades of waging peace on a small scale have made Sam an expert diplomat, he's unable to prevent racial and ethnic borders from forming. Still, the garden becomes a place where wounds heal, friendships form, and seeds of change are sown. Readers won't gain any great appreciation for the art and science of gardening from this, but they may come away understanding that people can work side by side despite vastly different motives, attitudes, skills, and cultural backgrounds. It's a worthy idea, accompanied by Pedersen's chapter-heading black-and-white portraits, providing advance information about the participants' races and, here and there, ages. (Fiction. 9-11)

-Kirkus Review
  CDJLibrary | Jan 11, 2023 |
Maybe the author had good intentions with this story of a multicultural community coming together to grow a garden. But the racial insensitivity it traffics in was painful - each chapter is written in a different characters voice, but only the Asian character is written with an obvious accent. The political and economic assumption is that all these people could build a better community if they just worked a little harder. One of the final chapters includes a line “ It had been such a wonderful change to see people making something for themselves instead of waiting for a welfare check.”
There’s so much to unpack in these 70 pages, and I don’t think this novella deserves that much work. ( )
  jscape2000 | Nov 27, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
Margaret Jackson (Children's Literature)
With Seedfolks, Newbery Medal winner Paul Fleischman has written a kind of modern-day folk tale about disconnected urban dwellers coming together one-by-one to join in a rather accidental community garden. It all starts with the simple act of a young immigrant girl honoring her dead father by planting a few lima beans in vacant lot in her downtrodden Cleveland neighborhood. She tells her story in chapter one and the chapters that follow are the voices of the other gardeners--spanning all ages and many nationalities--and how they came to be a part of the garden and the new community spirit that blossomed there. Seedfolks is just a slip of a book but a very interesting story well told. 1997, Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins, $13.95 and $13.89. Ages 10 up.

added by kthomp25 | editChildren's Literature, Margaret Jackson
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I stood before our family altar. It was dawn. No one else in the apartment was awake. I stared at my father's photograph - his thin face stern, lips latched tight, his eyes peering permanently to the right. I was nine years old and still hoped that perhaps his eyes might move. Might notice me.
If we happened to miss, two or three days, people stopped by to ask about Mr. Myles' health. We, like our seeds, were now planted in the garden.


Nora, British nurse
The object in America is to avoid contact, to treat all as foes unless they're known to be friends. Here you have a million crabs living in a million crevices.

But the garden's greatest benefit, I feel, was not relief to the eyes, but to make the eyes see our neighbors.

Amir, Indian manager of a fabric store
My grandmother's sampler from when she was a girl, said "Be Not Solitary, Be Not Idle." That was easy all those years in the library. Being retired, it's harder.

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One by one, a number of people of varying ages and backgrounds transform a trash-filled inner-city lot into a productive and beautiful garden, and in doing so, the gardeners are themselves transformed.

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One by one, a number of people of varying ages and backgrounds transform a trash-filled inner-city lot into a productive and beautiful garden, and in doing so, the gardeners are themselves transformed.
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