From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cover of Seedfolks
Author Paul Fleischman
Illustrator Judy Pedersen
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's literature
Published 1997
Media type Print
Pages 102
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 who lives with her older sister and mother, decides to plant six Lima bean seeds in a vacant lot in remembrance of her dead father, a farmer. 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, an elderly Romanian lady, sees Kim bury something, and quickly assumes that the "Chinese girl" is doing something illegal. Ana digs up the seeds in the vacant lot. Upon discovery of the Lima bean seeds, she feels sorry and replants them. Wendell, Ana's middle-aged neighbor, is told by Ana about Kim's seeds. He finds that 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 a nearby 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 growing garden. Tio Juan had been a farmer in Guatemala and finds the community garden a place where he finally feels comfortable. Tio Juan helps others with their gardens, but no one understands him because he doesn't speak English. Sam is a 78-year-old man who is nice to everyone. He starts a contest to solve the problem of water not reaching the gardens. If adults can't do it, let the children try! Leona also sees the progress of the garden but dislikes all the garbage. She complains to the government, but people do not take her seriously on the phone. She goes to complain in person and brings garbage from the garden, formerly the vacant lot, so that everyone in the waiting room can smell it. She wins their attention and has the lot cleared out. Curtis plants tomatoes to win back the heart of a former girlfriend, Lateesha. Curtis plants it outside the fence and becomes very protective of the garden after some of his tomatoes are stolen. So he enlists Royce, a homeless black teenager, as a guard. Sae Young owned a dry cleaning shop until she was brutally beaten during a robbery. She became fearful of people, never going out of her house and having everything delivered. When she goes to the garden, she begins to feel safer around people. She evens helps the garden and buys funnels that people can use for water. Nora is a British nurse who takes care of the wheelchair-bound Mr. Myles. As they walk by the garden, Mr. Myles gets excited and Nora helps him plant flowers in the garden. Maricela is a pregnant, sixteen-year-old Mexican girl who wishes her unborn baby would die, until she starts to realize that the miracle of life is not so bad. Amir is an Indian immigrant who owns a fabric store. He decides to plant eggplants in the garden. In the garden, he meets someone who had insulted him a year ago in his fabric store, but 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, taking Florence's stress away. The garden changed many people's lives, and it all came from a little girl who was very small but very strong and 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]