3.9 77
by Paul Fleischman, Judy Pedersen

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A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha's


A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha's heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil's dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead.

Thirteen very different voices and perspectives—old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful—tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.

Chosen as a state and citywide read in communities across the country, including in Vermont; Racine, WI; Tampa, FL; Newburgh, NY; and Boca Raton, FL.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fleischman's talent for writing stories from various points of view makes his works particularly appealing in audiobook form. Here, 13 different characters come alive via the distinct performances of a widely varied cast. When Kim, a young Vietnamese girl, plants some lima beans in a run-down vacant lot near her Cleveland, Ohio, apartment building, she has no idea that her actions will be a catalyst for reinvigorating the community. An elderly Romanian woman, a widower from Kentucky, an African-American boy and a Hispanic man are just a sampling of the other nearby residents who gradually emerge to follow Kim's unintentional lead and begin to help grow a new garden-and newly fulfilled lives-in the lot. Though not all the readings are of equal caliber (the portrayals of Ana and Wendell are particularly strong; a couple of the child performers lack polish), the range of voices and styles suggests a true community-certainly the author's intention. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)
The ALAN Review - Teri S. Lesesne
A vacant lot in an inner city neighborhood is transformed into a garden which grows a sense of community among the thirteen residents who labor there to create a place of beauty and renewal. Kim makes the first move as she plants beans in honor of her late father, a Vietnamese farmer. A neighbor, suspicious at first, watches Kim doggedly tend the withering crop. Other neighbors soon join in, each cultivating a section of the lot. Suddenly, a place of beauty stands amidst the grime of the city, a beacon of hope for residents who believed hope to be vanished from their lives. As he proved so ably in Bull Run, winner of the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction, Fleischman is adept at writing from many perspectives. The book's format lends itself perfectly to reader's theater and is also a good choice for reading aloud traditionally.
Children's Literature - Margaret Jackson
With Seedfolks, Newbery Medal winner Paul Fleischman has written a kind of modern-day folk tale about disconnected urban dwellers coming together one-by-one to join in a rather accidental community garden. It all starts with the simple act of a young immigrant girl honoring her dead father by planting a few lima beans in vacant lot in her downtrodden Cleveland neighborhood. She tells her story in chapter one and the chapters that follow are the voices of the other gardeners-spanning all ages and many nationalities-and how they came to be a part of the garden and the new community spirit that blossomed there. Seedfolks is just a slip of a book but a very interesting story well told.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 UpA vacant lot in Cleveland, OH, is transformed into a garden when residents of the community plant seeds to fulfill personal needs. From the Korean girl who plants lima beans in memory of the father she never knew, to the elderly Guatemalan uncle who can't speak English, to the Haitian cab driver who plants baby lettuce to sell to fancy restaurants, the 13 voices telling their stories are like a packet of variegated seeds that when sown produce a beautiful, multicolored harvest. The device is similar to that of Fleischman's Bull Run (HarperCollins, 1993); one character's words sum up the cumulative effect: "Gardening...has suspense, tragedy, startling developmentsa soap opera growing out of the ground." Indeed it does. The vacant lot could be in any city as the message of diversity, people, and sensibility is universal, and beautifully cultivated by an author who has a green thumb with words.Julie Cummins, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Using the multiple voices that made Bull Run (1995) so absorbing, Fleischman takes readers to a modern inner-city neighborhood and a different sort of battle, as bit by bit the handful of lima beans an immigrant child plants in an empty lot blossoms into a community garden, tended by a notably diverse group of local residents.

It's not an easy victory: Toughened by the experience of putting her children through public school, Leona spends several days relentlessly bulling her way into government offices to get the lot's trash hauled away; others address the lack of readily available water, as well as problems with vandals and midnight dumpers; and though decades of waging peace on a small scale have made Sam an expert diplomat, he's unable to prevent racial and ethnic borders from forming. Still, the garden becomes a place where wounds heal, friendships form, and seeds of change are sown. Readers won't gain any great appreciation for the art and science of gardening from this, but they may come away understanding that people can work side by side despite vastly different motives, attitudes, skills, and cultural backgrounds. It's a worthy idea, accompanied by Pedersen's chapter-heading black-and-white portraits, providing advance information about the participants' races and, here and there, ages.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.74(w) x 7.92(h) x 0.32(d)
710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


I stood before our family altar. It was dawn. No one else in the apartment was awake. I stared at my father's photographhis thin face stem, lips latched tight. his eyes peering permanently to the right. I was nine years old and still hoped that perhaps his eyes might move. Might notice me.

The candies and the incense sticks, lit the day before to mark his death anniversary, had burned out. The rice and meat offered him were gone. After the evening feast, past midnight, I'd been wakened by my mother's crying. My oldestsister had joined in. My own tears had then come as well, but for a different reason.

I turned from the altar, tiptoed to the kitchen, and quietly drew a spoon from a drawer. I filled my lunch thermos with water and reached into our jar of dried lima beans. Then I walked outside to the street.

The sidewalk was completely empty. It was Sunday, early in April . An icy wind teetered trash cans and turned my cheeks to marble. In Vietnam we had no weather like that. Here in Cleveland people call it spring. I walked half a block, then crossed the street and reached the vacant lot.

I stood tall and scouted. No one was sleeping on the old couch in the middle. I'd never entered the lot before, or wanted to. I did so now, picking my way between tires and trash bags. I nearly stepped on two rats gnawing and froze. Then I told myself that I must show my bravery. I continued farther and chose a spot far from the sidewalk and hidden from view by a rusty refrigerator. I had to keep my project safe.

I took out my spoon and began to dig. The snow had melted, but the ground was hard. After much work, I finished one hole, thena second, then a third. I thought about how my mother and sisters remembered my father, how they knew his face from every angle and held in their fingers the feel of his hands. I had no such memories to cry over.I'd been born eight months after he'd died. Worse, he had no memories of me. When his spirit hovered over our altar, did it even know who I was?

I dug six holes. All his life in Vietnam my father had been a farmer. Here our apartment house had no yard. But in that vacant lot he would see me. He would watch my beans break ground and spread, and would notice with pleasure their pods growing plump. He would see my patience and my hard work. I would show him that I could raise plants, as he had. I would show him that I was his daughter.

My class had sprouted lima beans in paper cups the year before. I now placed a bean in each of the holes. I covered them up, pressing the soil down firmly with my fingertips. I opened my thermos and watered them all. And I vowed to myself that those beans would thrive.

Seedfolks. Copyright © by Paul Fleischman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Paul Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California in a house with a printing press, a grand piano, a shortwave radio, and his father—children’s author Sid Fleischman. Playing recorder in early music consorts led to his books of verbal duets—I Am Phoenix, Joyful Noise (winner of the 1989 Newbery Medal), and Big Talk. His novels built from monologues include Bull Run, a 16-character account of the Civil War's first battle, and Seedfolks—the chronicle of the first year of a Cleveland community garden. His interest in theater inspired his young adult novels Mind's Eye, Seek, and Breakout, all of which revolve around the spoken word. His historical fiction includes Saturnalia and The Borning Room. He's written nonfiction and picture books as well, including Time Train, Weslandia, and Sidewalk Circus.

Alongside the Newbery Medal, he's won a Newbery Honor Book, the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the PEN West Literary Award, the California Young Reader Medal, and most recently was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Award. He makes his home in the village of Aromas, California.

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Seedfolks 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 77 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When my English teacher assigned this book for summer reading, I thought okay, this is going to be a boring book. When I saw the cover, my next thought was this is going to be very boring. When I saw the amount of pages, I thought it was not much of a challenge for a soon-to-be-eighth-grader. One of my suspicions was true, and it was not much of a challenge. However, I was wrong about it looking and being boring. It was actually quite entertaining, and some of the individual stories really reached out to me (Maricela's and Curtis' stories really touched me). That just goes to show that you can't judge a book by its cover.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Seedfolks is a two thumbs up book for everyone who likes to read and I recommend this book to everyone. It does not matter if you are a kid or an adult you will like this novel. This novel also has a good example of how one person can make a big difference in a whole community. My favorite character in this book was Gonzalo. He came here to the U.S.A and learn English by watching TV just like I did. This is an awesome novel to read and I think everyone should read it, because is a great inspirational novel and you would learn that doing something for your community can make a big difference.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this story. It told us so much about all the characters and how they all had problems. What I didn¿t like was when the story finally got good they started another vignette without even saying what happened to the other character. I liked this story especially for how the neighborhood came together to do something great for their city. I think this story will inspire people to do something good and help clean up their community because the smallest lot can make them look like a dump, even if they are the cleanest people you¿ll ever meet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Seedfolks Seedfolks was a great story it was very short and very understandable. I recommend Seedfolks to everyone that likes to make a difference in their community and life¿s. In the story I like how the chapters changed from character to character. There was a character name Kim and she was my favorite character she wanted to make a difference in her community. I relate to this because I really want to make a difference in our community by ending violence. You should all take a chance and read the book Seedfolks it is outstanding!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Seedfolks was a good book because it shows how a small rundown city can turn into a beautiful place. It shows how fifteen people¿s lives get changed by planting and gardening. Also because this book was clear if the author needed to say something he just came out and said it. The other reason was it made you feel like you were one of the characters like you really got into it and that helped me understand it. In this city people learned to stand up for what they believe in, take charge and help each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in the 6th grade. Everyone (besides the teachers) hated this book. It was boring. We had a bunch of assignments to do for this book. I was so annoyed by everything. Though, once or twice I thought some parts were interesting. I will always dislike this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i was given this book for summer reading, i thought it was going to be very boring, but it turned out to be very touching and inspiring. NEVER judge a book by it's cover!
Guest More than 1 year ago
SEEDFOLKS I think that this was a very good book because each character explains how important the book was. It also describes lots of things about the garden and about the people in the city related to the garden. It also explains different people planting different things and how they started talking to each other. It also explains about every body back ground. Also it talks about who started the garden, and how it ended. I also think that this book give lot of advice to all the people because it¿s mostly how important the garden is and how people come to earth. My advice to all people that incase your interested you might want to read it but incase you are not you could read different books from Paul Fleischman.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book Seedfolks is a good book for all ages it is a four star book. This book is about a trash filled lot and started to change when a girl plants her seeds in it. In time grows in a community garden one by one everyone that knew about it started pitch in to make it bigger and effect on there lives. This book well make you want to grow a garden of your own. You will grow to love this book I recommend this book for all who love to garden.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought Seedfolks, the book, was appealing and thrilling! I liked some the characters with included Maricela, Wendall, Curtis, and Nora. It was kind of amusing how they expressed themselves! It also had worth! I loved reading this book and couldn¿t stop until I completed it!!! I would give this book four (4) stars!!!! I urge Seedfolks for kids twelve and up to maybe fifteen. My favorite character is Maricela. She is a sixteen-year-old, pregnant teen, who gets involved with a program that helps pregnant teens get the GED and take them to their doctor¿s appointments!! Seedfolks wasn¿t that long and it wasn¿t short either!! I think the theme was to get to know people and to work with diverse kinds of people with diverse environment!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Seedfolks is a good story because it talks about 13 different people and how they all join planting a garden and how the neighborhood were they live changed. No one before use to care about making a garden except a young girl started planting seeds so that she can grow some vegetables. So all the people in that neighborhood started planting too and helping around with that garden. I recommend this book for people who like helping around in the neighborhood and that like planting a garden.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Seedfolks is an awesome book for both young readers and adults. It is entertaining and very creative. It¿s about how the neighborhood got together when a young girl started a garden. At first no one communicated with each others. After weeks, months, and years people were already used to helping each others out. At first they weren¿t much commutative but soon they all began talking like if they knew each others since birth. The garden brought them together. For me Seedfolks was a good book. It explained everything so clearly, and it was very entertaining once you adjusted to it. I recommend this book, for anyone who wants to see how little things could turn into big ones!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked seedfolks because it made you think of how there is a lot of how there is a lot of racism or hate between cultures. This book is about many people with different backgrounds and has all different kinds of problems. Then they all start to Plant in this vacant lot. Although there was a something I didn¿t like it was that in each chapter it will cut of on the person¿s life they were talking about. And it will leave u hanging wondering what happened next after the problem was solved. I recommend this book to people that don¿t like to read long chapters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is ok just needs more sparks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a lovely book from premise to structure. I finished it wanting more voices.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a lot of stuff to make u emoshinol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in the sixth grade. Our teacher kept trying to get us to read into the book and find the hidden messages. Yes I'm sure that the garden is a metaphor for something but to a bunch of 6th graders it was just a book we had to read about people planting. I'm sure its a better book if you aren't having nightmares about all the assignments we had to do on it. 
DoranneLongPTMS More than 1 year ago
This little book, with a GIANT message, is a keeper. When we tend to our own space on this planet, and share with others, this world is a better place for all of us!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is kind of interesting but I am in the seventh grade. There are good lessons but this book is a low level of reading for seventh grader in language arts. Good book for 5-6 graders though. :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This small book is powerful. It tells a good story by introducing us to new characters, chapter by chapter, and interweaving their lives and events. There are many layers to the story, which is about how a vacant lot, filled with garbage in a run-down Cleveland neighborhood, is turned into a community garden through the hard work of many people, who on the surface are quite different from one another. But there are many other ideas in this book that will make the reader think about Life, such as prejudice, poverty, trust, values, issues of aging, importance of community, and the healing power of Nature, specifically making things grow in your own garden. Each chapter is a small gem. And the book as a whole is a beautifully crafted work of art. I have used this book in my English-as-a-Second Language teaching with young people and adults, because it is not difficult to read, but it is good for vocabulary building, idioms, American culture, and most of all for conversation. Every page presents ideas to be discussed if you are reading this for ESL practice or with a small group that just likes to discuss the book as it's being read. I use have borrowed this book from my library so often that when I saw it was available as an eBook I was happy to buy it. Paul Fleischman writes excellent books that really engage the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So far the book is great!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think you should read if you like realistic fiction and a book that contains entries from each caracter's.