Customer Reviews: Seedfolks
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HALL OF FAMEon November 24, 2001
Paul Fleischman's novel "Seedfolks" is only 69 pages long, but the author packs a lot of emotional power into this story. "Seedfolks" takes place in a troubled urban neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. The story begins when a young Vietnamese-American girl starts a small vegetable garden in a plot of land in a neglected, garbage-filled lot. From this small start, a project begins which transforms the neighborhood.
This is a moving story which presents multi-cultural urban life in both its negative and positive aspects. Each chapter is told in the first person by a different member of the community. Thus, by the end of the book we have heard a great diversity of voices: male and female, of many age groups, and of many different ethnic backgrounds.
I was really impressed with this book, and recommend it to both younger readers and adults. For an interesting companion text to "Seedfolks," try "O Pioneers!", the classic novel by Willa Cather.
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on April 7, 2003
This masterfully cast and rendered audio version of Fleischman's gorgeous vignette-novel features 13 different performers of various ages and ethnicities. The fact that some of the readers are not professional performers gives the voices a ring of authenticity that is often missing from the "act-y" delivery of many audiobook readers (which I often find distancing). You are captivated by the natural, sincere delivery of these performers, who portray characters ranging from a very young Vietnamese girl to a Guatemalan man to an old, feisty Eastern European woman. The performances of the professional actors are so honest and convincing --particularly the Mexican teenager, young African-American man and the cowboy-like school janitor-- that they blend in seamlessly with the other voices. The story unfolds slowly, piece by piece, and by the very first chapter, you'll be hooked-- not only by Fleischman's wonderful writing, but by the musicality and vitality of each character's unique voice. A real treasure and high-quality product for all ages.
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VINE VOICEon May 31, 2007
It all started with one little girl. Kim's father died before she was even born, and she is afraid that he might not know her as he looks down from heaven. So she decides to do something to make him recognize her and to make him proud. He was a farmer back in Vietnam, so she takes a handful of bean seeds to a trash-covered vacant lot near her inner-city apartment and plants them. When he looks down and sees them, he will know she is his daughter.

Someone looks down from a window and is intrigued by this girl who keeps visiting the vacant lot in secret. Upon investigation she sees what is going on and decides to clear a little patch of land for a tiny garden of her own. Others observe and like the idea, and soon the vacant lot is covered with a patchwork of gardens from all sorts of people living nearby. Someone is able to bully the city into moving the trash off of this land. People who usually avoid eye contact at all cost are suddenly meeting neighbors and relating to one another. Through this garden project, a neighborhood of strangers becomes a real community.

I liked the characters in this story. They were all very vivid and their stories were well thought out. I also liked being able to see the different perspectives on this garden, and the different reasons people decided to plant things here.

I didn't like that each person's story was just dropped after it was told. I wanted the author to go back and write what the people were thinking. What did Kim think when her garden idea caught on? Was Sam able to stop the segregation he saw developing in the garden? I wanted some followup to each story.
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on January 11, 2002
The diversity of the world is represented by the very real and honest characters who live near the vacant, trash-filled lot that soon becomes a mecca of collaboration, peace, and beauty in this novel. There are 13 chapters to this book, each narrated in the first person by a different character who somehow finds some answer to his/her life's needs through the transformation of a simple garden. You will appreciate the honesty of each character, from the son who sees his father become a greedy liar to the man who understands that sometimes we are responsible for our own segregation. You will love seeing the emotional growth in a Korean woman who is recouperating from a life of tragedy, and your heart will be touched by Curtis who is trying to make amends for his past decisions. What is most impressive is that Fleischman is able to tell this delightful tale in such a way that the reader feels as if they're in on a secret--as if we know how the lives of the characters connect in a way that they do not understand themselves. If you like this clever novel, you will also enjoy Paul Fleischman's Whirligig, which has a similar affect on the reader. I recommend this book to young readers (6th grade+) as well as adults.
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on April 3, 2004
I loved Seed Folks. I finished the book in one afternoon, but thought about it for days after. In the year since I've read the book I've purchased 14 copies for friends who I thought would appreciate its message of community and optimism. In these times when we always check to make sure our doors are locked before going to bed at night, Seed Folks offers a message of hope. The characters are believable and the story is engaging - the kind of story one would wish to make a reality.
Fleischman writes the book from the perspective of 11 characters, each the voice of his or her own chapter. It was an interesting way to present the story and served to give readers any number of connections to the text.
I am a 6th grade teacher. I developed a lesson from the book and read it to my students using the voices of fellow teachers to speak for characters in the book. I will continue to give Seed Folks as gifts to friends, as well as teach that lesson to every one of my classes. Seed Folks is a book I wish I had written myself. My hat is off to Paul Fleischman.
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on January 14, 2016
I am sure that the people writing these reviews are over the age of 10. This is not an age appropriate book for grade school children. It deals with adult subject of suicide, miscarriage, and unwed teenage pregnancy. Better suited for high school students. Was very disturbing to my 10 year old nephew. Book contains adult content and should be rated R.
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on May 11, 2008
SeedFolks By Paul Fleischman
Harper Collins Publisher 1997
Flesh Kincaid Index- 4.9
69 pages
Genre: contemporary fiction

Synopsis of plot: Seedfolks takes place in Cleveland, Ohio in a low-income neighborhood. The main setting is a small, abandoned and run down lot in the neighborhood. The book is narrated by a different character every chapter, although the presence and connection of all the narrators is intertwined throughout the chapters. The novel opens with Kim, a young Vietnamese girl struggling with the early loss of her father. To gain a connection to her otherwise estranged dad, she decides to plant some beans to honor his life as a farmer. She chooses the abandoned lot as her garden. The chapters that follow introduce other characters that end up planting in the lot as well, all for their own unique reasons. The reader sees the narrators from past chapters showing up in the new narrators' chapters. Each character has their own problem that essentially is solved by their participation in the growth of the garden. Strangers who normally do not acknowledge each other's existence begin to say hello, offer advice, and communicate across language barriers.

Address negative aspects of the book: One of the negative aspects of the book that I encountered was that the chapters are so short! Each character had their own personal story to share, but a few pages do not do them all justice! The author leaves you wanting more, but in a negative way. Another negative aspect is that I still had questions and concerns about each character when the book ended. The book concludes the same way it starts, with a narrator's story, and some strings are never tied up. This frustrated me as the reader.

Personal appraisal of the book: I thought this book was fantastic. It was quick to read and really hard to put down. I got attached to each character and really enjoyed seeing past narrators through the new narrator's eyes. The connection of all the characters was also really interesting. Seeing how Kim, the first character, is brought up in subsequent chapters and appears throughout the book was an appealing and unique quality of the writer. Living in a city like Cleveland, I can identify with how strangers ignore each other on the streets and feel they have nothing in common- even though they live within blocks and see each other every day! The diversity of the characters reminded me of my own neighborhood, and since reading the book, I've decided to say a simple hello to my fellow neighbors when passing them around the block. It's interesting to see how people react to kindness from strangers! You should definitely consider spending the couple of hours it takes to read this book to begin to think about how the book parallels aspects of your own life. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!
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on November 8, 2015
No one in the neighborhood thought that a vacant lot that looks like a complete dump could have potential. Then one day a girl plants some beans and they take off. As people watch her, they follow her lead. They also plant seeds on the lot. Soon, there are all sorts of plants being grown. People get together, help each other out, and share their crops, while others are territorial with the plot they call their own. The story is told through multiple points of view of children, teenagers, and adults from all walks of life.
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on March 24, 2015
This book is a masterpiece. Each chapter is a wonderful short story in itself, a study of individual characters and circumstances, and how they relate to the growing garden. The book is so short, yet every page is rich. Seedfolks addresses big issues like poverty, immigration, racism, and community in accessible language. I used it as a read-aloud for my 6th grade class, and students responded to the characters and stories powerfully. We were able to have honest conversations about these big, scary issues, using the book as a launching point. This is one I will keep in my library and go back to read again and again.
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on April 13, 2005
This book is amazing! We are using it in Adult ESL classes in Chicago and the students won't miss class because they don't want to miss any of the story. One of the students came in tonight and told me he wants to buy it instead of reading from our copies. It fits so well because it describes the lives of people from other countries and because it is for middle-school aged children the students are able to follow the story. I highly recommend it!
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