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Cover of Seedfolks
Author Paul Fleischman
Illustrator Judy Pedersen
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's literature
Published 1997 (HarperCollins)
Media type Print
Pages 69
ISBN ISBN 0-06-027471-9 / ISBN 0-06-447207-8 / ISBN 0-06-027472-7
OCLC 34943325

Seedfolks (1997) is a short children's novel written by Paul Fleischman, with illustrations by Judy Pedersen.[1] The story is told by a diverse cast of characters living on (or near) Gibb Street in Cleveland, Ohio, each from a different ethnic group. Chapter by chapter, each character describes the transformation of an empty lot into a vibrant community garden, and in doing so, they each experience their own transformations.[2]


Kim, a nine year old Vietnamese girl that Ana thought was a Chinese girl, decides to plant six Lima bean seeds in a vacant lot in remembrance of her dead father, a farmer, and she also has a sister and a mother who lives with her. She visits every day to see the progress. She plants the beans in the hope that the spirit of her father will watch and recognize her as his daughter. Ana, a very old woman who is Romanian sees Kim bury something, and quickly assumes Kim is doing something illegal. Ana digs up the seeds in the vacant lot. Upon discovery of the Lima seeds, she feels sorry and replants them. Wendell, a man in the community, is told by Ana that Kim planted the seeds, and they are dying since Kim planted the seeds in the wrong season, so he decides to watch over them while he creates a small garden of his own in the space. Gonzalo, a Guatemalan teenager who initially has little respect for his old great-uncle, Tio Juan, watches as his uncle puts his gardening knowledge to work in the garden. Tio Juan was a farmer in Guatemala and finally finds a place he feels comfortable in the garden. Juan helps others with their gardens, but no one can understand him because he doesn't even speak English. Sam is a 78 year old man who is nice to everyone, and started a contest to solve the problem of water reaching the gardens. If adults can't do it, let children try! Leona also sees the progress of the garden but dislikes all the garbage. She complains to the government but don't take her seriously on the phone. She goes to complain in person and brings garbage that was from the garden so that everyone in the room can smell it. She wins and has the lot cleared out. Curtis plants tomatoes to win the heart of a former girlfriend, Lateesha. Curtis planted it outside the fence and becomes very protective of the garden after some of his tomatoes are stolen. So he enlists Royce, a teenager who is homeless. Sae Young owned a dry cleaning shop until she was brutally beaten during a robbery. Soon she becomes fearful of people. She would never go out of her house and would have everything delivered. When she goes to the garden, she begins to feel safer around people. She evens helps the garden, bought funnels that people can use for water. Nora is a British nurse who takes care of a man in a wheelchair, Mr. Myles, and as they walk by the garden, Mr. Myles gets excited and Nora helps him to join in planting something. Maricela is a pregnant sixteen year old Mexican who wishes her baby would die.Then she starts to realize that the miracle of life is not so bad. Amir is an Indian immigrant and owns a fabric store. He decides to plant eggplant and carrots in the garden. In the garden he meets up with someone who had insulted him in his store, and they become friends. He also assists in the arrest of a robber, along with two other men. Florence loves the garden, but she can not participate because of arthritis in her wrists. She watches the garden change, and becomes upset when nobody is there for the fall and winter. She fears that nobody will come back the following year, but the story comes full circle when she sees Kim planting Lima beans in early spring again, which takes Florence's stress away. This garden has changed so many peoples lives and it all came from a little girl who is small but very brave.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1998)[3]
  • Buckeye Children's Book Award (1999), Grades 6-8[4]
  • Marathon County READS | Featured Book (2010)[5]
  • Chosen as state and citywide read in communities across the country:
    • Vermont
    • Racine, WI
    • Tampa, FL
    • Newburgh, NY
    • Boca Raton, FL
    • Trumansburg, NY
    • Tallahassee, FL
    • Madison, WI
    • Dallas, TX[6]
    • Edgewater Neighborhood, Chicago, IL
  • Won the Sydney Hess Fictional Shirt Design Award in 1999 [7]


  1. ^ Library of Congress: "Seedfolks" (brief record)
  2. ^ HarperCollinsPublishers: "Seedfolks" Summary
  3. ^ ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  4. ^ Buckeye Children's Book Awards: Past Winners
  5. ^ Marathon County READS: an initiative of the Marathon County Public Library (MCPL)
  6. ^ Harper Collins
  7. ^[dead link]

External links[edit]