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

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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.

“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson December 31, 2012

Filed under: Classics,Poetry — hilariouslibrarian @ 7:52 am
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Not surprisingly, the poetry of Emily Dickinson plays a role of its own in the story of Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak. Lines from this poem appear early in the book and spark an important relationship for Claire.

Full text of "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson

Text courtesy of; Image from Microsoft Clip Art


A Poem: “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas November 23, 2012

Filed under: Classics,Poetry — hilariouslibrarian @ 3:03 pm
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Because this poem is central to the action in “Matched” by Ally Condie and because it is a rousing cry of the soul.

The Poem (source:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Want to hear the poet reading it?


“Forever” by Judy Blume October 2, 2011

Filed under: Classics,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:33 am
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Blume, Judy. Forever. New York: Simon Pulse, 1975. 192 pp. ISBN: 1416934006

Forever cover

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Katherine isn’t the kind of girl who has a boyfriend in high school, until she meets Michael and plunges into a special love she is sure will last forever. Michael is caring and sweet, and very much wants to take this relationship all the way.

This story is beautiful and timeless in its simplicity. A girl meets a boy and loves the boy. He fills her whole world and together, they enter into a sexual relationship. They promise each other that what they have found is forever. However, after some time apart, they both learn what so many have learned before them – forever is a very long time.

Blume’s writing flows easily. Part of the enduring appeal of the book is that Katherine’s first love is a good one. Aside from a few spats and misunderstandings, nothing goes wrong. She is sweet to Michael. He is good to her. It is an accurate portrayal of how love can wash over a person and carry them away. There is a life lesson in the flow of the story, but it is gently rolled out and does not take away from the joy the characters find in their plunge into romance.

Awards/Honors (source:

  • Margaret A. Edwards Award, 1996