This story isn't your normal garden story. It's different and unique, just like the characters in this story. Seedfolks is a story of a rather large group of diverse people from different ethnic backgrounds ages who all happen to be influenced by a old lot turned community garden in the center of Cleveland, Ohio. One day a young girl decides to plant some lima beans in a corner of a junkyard-type lot and not too long after, different people from around the city to start little by little transforming the lot into a real garden.
What is most interesting about this book is how it is written. Every chapter is written from the first-person point of view of another character. Paul Fleischman doesn't repeat any character, and yet through this a cohesive story is able to be told. Each person comes from a different ethnic background, and the ages of each character ranges from elementary to elderly. Some characters become involved with the garden at different times throughout the summer, and they tell their part of their story accordingly.
This story is great because it really opens up the idea that even in a city that is so diverse as Cleveland, where every group tends to keep to their own group, something as special as a garden can bring them together. When all these people are in the garden, prejudices are put aside, and even through language barriers, they learn to communicate with each other.
This story allows readers to discuss how to put aside stereotypes and ethnic and age differences and what can come of that when one does. This is a great book to use in the classroom with 4th and 5th graders!
A Seed of Advice from 'Seedfolks'
Who knew gardening could produce more than just produce? Thanks to Paul Fleischman’s "Seedfolks," I now get that.
"Seedfolks" follows the story of a trash heap turned community garden started by a small Vietnamese girl. Normally, I wouldn’t think it’s important to reference a character’s race in a blog post, but that’s essentially what this book is all about: race relations. Fleischman looks at the racial stereotypes we all bring to the table, and shows how a group project can turn those stereotypes around.
After Kim, the Vietnamese girl, gets cracking on growing some lima beans in the dirty lot used as a trash can, an entire apartment complex soon comes together to clear the place out and plant flowers and veggies of their own. The gardeners come from all backgrounds: some are white, some are black, some are Korean, some are Jewish, some are Persian, some are young, others are old, etc., etc., etc. Pretty soon the place turns into a beautiful paradise in the middle of Cleveland, Ohio, kept after by once disparate groups who have become a family.
The best and heaviest quote from the story comes from the perspective of Amir, an Indian man who runs a fabric store and has his own plot in the garden. Once he feels close enough to his Polish neighbor through the shared task of gardening, he tells the woman that she called him a dirty foreigner in his shop when they had a dispute about giving change. Amir recalls, “She apologized to me over and over again. She kept saying, ‘Back then, I didn’t know it was you….’” I think the moral of the story is we can use "Seedfolks" to plant a seed in others about ending stereotypes.
Works at tearing down stereotypes.
Reader reviewed by Bookworm9
Seedfolks takes on many narrators to tell one story-- the growth of a community garden in an inner-city neighborhood, from its start as a few lima bean seeds (planted by a young Vietnamese immigrant to honor her father) in a decrepit lot to the emergence of a neighborhood Eden. Each section is fairly short, so it's a quick read, but I was often left wondering what happened to certain characters, so it was not entirely satisfying.
Great book for students who like to see things from different perspectives
Reader reviewed by michele
Seedfolks is a book I use in my Junior English class at a vocational school. The book is suited for younger childern but can also be used to teacher view points and characterisitics of a person. It's a great discussion starter and has a unique view of the world and it's communities. I recommend it for use with any class as it has so many possibilities.