Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“Seedfolks” by Paul Fleischman March 28, 2013

Filed under: Classics,Fiction,Multi-Cultural,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:08 am
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Seedfolks cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

112 pages; published March 1999

The Basics

A community garden takes root in a vacant lot on Gibb Street in Cleveland, Ohio, making friends and neighbors of the individuals who come together to cultivate it. Told in 14 distinct voices that reflect the diversity of the neighborhood, Seedfolks is as rich as it is brief.


A young Vietnamese girl named Kim, wishing to honor the memory of her father, sneaks into a vacant lot near her family’s apartment. Hiding behind a refrigerator so no one will now, she plants a handful of lima beans.

But when she is spotted, instead of being angry, the neighbors are interested. One by one, others in her community – remembering gardens and farms from Guatemala, Korea, India, Romania and other places of their youth – step into the lot and claim their own piece of earth. Even those who cannot tend a plot take an interest, fighting to have to lot cleared or helping solve the problem of irrigation.

Each of the seedfolks has their own reasons and a story to tell. In 14 small stories, they create a picture of a community and find common ground.

Random Thoughts

  • The audiobook – which is how I enjoyed this story – was extraordinary. The 14 stories are told by 14 different voice actors, each with an accent or dialect that fits their character. The diverse voices definitely enriched the experience.
  • This may be one of those books for young people that are even more enjoyable to older teens and adult readers, who have the life experience to read between some of the lines and drink in the full measure of the message.

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