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A Vietnamese girl plants six lima beans in a Cleveland vacant lot. Looking down on the immigrant-filled neighborhood, a Romanian woman watches suspiciously. A school janitor gets involved, then a Guatemalan family. Then muscle-bound Curtis, trying to win back Lateesha. Pregnant Maricela. Amir from India. A sense of community sprouts and spreads. 

Newbery-winning author Paul Fleischman uses thirteen speakers to bring to life a community garden's founding and first year. The book's short length, diverse cast, and suitability for adults as well as children have led it to be used in countless one-book reads in schools and in cities across the country.

Seedfolks has been drawn upon to teach tolerance, read in ESL classes, promoted by urban gardeners, and performed in schools and on stages from South Africa to Broadway.

102 pages, Paperback

First published April 11, 1997

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About the author

Paul Fleischman

58 books179 followers
Paul Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California. The son of well-known children's novelist Sid Fleischman, Paul was in the unique position of having his famous father's books read out loud to him by the author as they were being written. This experience continued throughout his childhood.
Paul followed in his father's footsteps as an author of books for young readers, and in 1982 he released the book "Graven Images", which was awarded a Newbery Honor citation.
In 1988, Paul Fleischman came out with "Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices", an unusually unique collection of poetry from the perspective of insects. This book was awarded the 1989 John Newbery Medal. Factoring in Sid Fleischman's win of the John Newbery Medal in 1987 for his book "The Whipping Boy", Paul and Sid Fleischman became to this day the only father and son authors to both win the John Newbery Medal.

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5 stars
4,529 (29%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,416 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 9, 2020

The word "paradise" came out of my mouth, without thinking.
An old Romanian woman keeps a keen eye on the neighborhood.

Her suspicious glance falls upon a young Vietnamese girl squatting in a vacant lot, poking at the ground.

Upon further inspection, she realizes that the young girl was planting lima bean seeds.
You have to have faith, especially in Cleveland.
Soon the entire community starts to notice - and the little garden begins to spread and the community will be forever changed.

This book was such a delightful surprise.

I feel like it can be SO hard to balance so many perspectives in a single story but Fleischman managed them all beautifully.

Each person was completely distinct and brought their own culture to the story.

Towards the end, it became a smidge difficult to remember who was who (mostly because each time we changed perspectives, the side characters would change names - i.e. the young Vietnamese girl was referred to Asian or other names)

All in all, I was impressed and enjoyed this story immensely!

Audiobook Comments
This was narrated by a full cast and wow - that was a treat to listen to. So many wonderful narrators brought this book to life.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Rob Cannon.
20 reviews8 followers
February 6, 2012
Some of you might have found that I tend to be a bit stingy with my star ratings. Seedfolks is definitely worthy of 5 stars. It is a very short book that you can read on your lunch break. You are given glimpses of snippets of the lives of many of the inhabitants of a Cleavland town from the perspective of 13 of those people. It all starts with a young Vietnamese girl who decides to surreptitiously plant a very small crop of lima beans in a bare patch of dirt in a "vacant" lot where people have taken to dumping their trash. She does this in an effort to connect with the missed memories of her father, a farmer, who died before she was born. Her efforts are noticed by neighbors who, up until now, have kept their distance from one another. Soon others start planting their own little crops. This simple activity brings common ground to people from various and sundry walks of life who learn that once you get to know someone, however different they may be, you can really grow to care about them.

My favorite part was of two individuals, a man and a woman, who became friends at the new garden. The man realizes that this same woman once came into his shop and had been rude to him over a discrepancy in change from a purchase. When the man dared to reveal this to her, she apologized profusely stating, "I didn't know it was *you* then." How much kinder would we be toward strangers if we stopped to remember that they are like us, they have families, hardships, triumphs, and are doing the best they can just like we are.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
15 reviews
January 11, 2015
I like the idea of a book about a community garden that brings people together. However, Fleischman's book which lets his audience "see people making something of themselves instead of waiting for a welfare check" (spoken by Florence on pg. 85) is hugely problematic given that Fleischman is a white guy from California that doesn't seem to be on welfare. I found his depictions of people of color to be essentializing and derogatory, while the character that he admitted to crafting after himself, the caucasian Sam, is just about the nicest, most balanced, and respectable member of the "Seedfolks." This is the YA version of The Help. A for effort.

If Fleischman's designs were to show the healing effects of collaboration and unplugging from technology, wouldn't it have been so much better to turn Seedfolks into a collaborative effort? He could have gathered friends and asked them to write a short monologue about their family's immigration experience and the way that a community garden might have benefitted them. That would be a more honest and respectful representation of diverse voices in America.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,789 reviews2,340 followers
August 13, 2014
When I saw the garden for the first time, so green among the dark brick buildings, I thought back to my parents' Persian rug. It showed climbing vines, rivers and waterfalls, grapes, flowers, singing birds, everything a desert dweller might dream of. The garden's green was as soothing to the eye as the deep blue of that rug. I'm aware of color - I manage a fabric store. But the garden's greatest benefit, I feel, was not relief to the eyes, but to make the eyes see our neighbors.

To honor her late father, Kim plants six beans in a vacant lot. Ana sees her doing this and assumes she is up to no good, so she is thrilled when she finds the plants. She and her neighbor, Wendell, help water the seedlings. Soon, others in the area are planting seeds. One woman manages to get all the trash littering the lot hauled away. The plants grow and thrive, but more importantly, people who once ignored one another are now talking, offering advice and sharing recipes. Everyone has a story to tell and a reason for planting.

This is a simply wonderful story of how a neighborhood garden grew and a community was born.
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,019 reviews921 followers
February 21, 2018
I read this book to my students. It lead to great discussions about diversity and coming together as one.

"Kim begins the garden, planting a few lima beans to connect with her father who died when she was a baby in Vietnam. Then Tío Juan, a farmer from Guatemala, gains purpose when he teaches the neighborhood children how to plant. Soon curious neighbors join in and together they grow a beautiful garden. With each bean sprout and cucumber blossom the residents of Gibs Street find hope and meaning in their little green paradise."
Profile Image for Sandra.
785 reviews101 followers
June 23, 2020
This very short novella (69 pages) is pure gold. A community grows connections and understanding while growing a garden. The many characters speaking in first person let you see how hard they find to feel part of their neighborhood, but at the same time they also show their own prejudices, which make difficult for others to feel integrated. They also let you see how they slowly outgrow those prejudices.
Profile Image for Becky.
827 reviews155 followers
July 7, 2016
I've been broken hearted by the news over and over again, I'm world-weary, I'm conflicted on my own beliefs, and I have no answers for this world- and I've been in a reading rut, which probably has to do a lot with the suffocating depressiveness of the last few weeks in America.

But this book helped me. Yes, I thought a few of the depictions were problematic, but overall it was charming, heart warming, and I cried my way through most of it. Brilliantly narrated on Audible, it was truly a boon to my soul. I cannot wait to go back out to my little garden at the farm, to tenderly inspect the tomatoes, and to revel in being a part of the cycle of nature. A good book at exactly the right time.
Profile Image for Irene.
455 reviews
October 27, 2021
My daughter read this book for school in 7th grade, but I'm not too keen on it. It's about a very diverse neighborhood coming together in the making of a community garden. Overall, the intent and the message of the book are positive. What troubles me is the delivery. Some might call this book "racist"; at the very least, the writing incorporates various levels of "racial insensitivity", or a lack of "racial awareness".

Listed below (at the end of this review) are race-related excerpts from the book that I believe are worth discussing, or at least clarifying. Each chapter is narrated in the first person by a different character, and most references are in the narrator's thoughts. No offense is intended in any of these references, but there's a lot to unpack just in reading the words in print. My concern is that the text itself does not provide enough context, and without sufficient analysis, young readers might come away from this book with misunderstandings about race-related concepts. Some of my examples might be nit-picky, but I think when a book is expressly written to showcase diversity, when it specifically shines a spotlight on race, it should go out of its way to get it right.

Having only 69 pages, the book is more of a novella. I was disappointed when I realized that each character gets only one chapter, so we don't see the individual stories developed. The garden itself is like the main character, and it's the growth of the garden that is told through the eyes of different people.

Aside from my concerns about race, the book includes references to a number of other topics that might be worth discussing with young readers as well. For example, death (some of the characters have family members who have died), marijuana, guns in schools, an armed robbery that results in physical abuse and PTSD, child abuse, homelessness, and a pregnant teenager who wishes to miscarry. Most of these issues are not fleshed out, mentioned only in passing.

Anyway, here are the race-related references that caught my attention:

Page 4: "Gibb Street was mainly Rumanians back then."
Rumania is an alternate spelling of Romania.

According to Wikipedia: "In English, the name of the country was formerly spelt Rumania or Roumania. Romania became the predominant spelling around 1975."

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania

As an elderly person, Ana (the narrator of this chapter) would be accustomed to using the spelling she grew up with.

Page 5: "Then Negro families in the Depression."
According to Merriam-Webster online, the term "Negro" is "dated, now sometimes offensive".

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Negro

Ana is still the narrator, and again, as an elderly person, she might be accustomed to using the terms she grew up with. In her old age, she might not understand that "Negro" is no longer an acceptable term to use to refer to African-Americans. She probably does not mean to refer to African-Americans in a belittling way, but if she said it out loud, an African-American might be offended.

These days, "African-American" and "black" are appropriate words to use. Some African-American / black people may have a preference for which term they prefer.




Page 10: "She gave me some binoculars and told me all about the Chinese girl."
Wendell (the narrator of this chapter) is referring to Kim, who is Vietnamese. He probably does not know Kim's ethnicity, so he guesses Chinese. He probably does not mean any harm, but if he said this out loud, Kim might be offended. Vietnamese language and culture is different from Chinese language and culture. Interchanging the two perpetuates the stereotype that all Asian cultures are the same, and not worth distinguishing one from the other. Instead, if you don't know a person's exact Asian country of origin, "Asian" is the appropriate word to use.

Page 14: "He doesn't speak Spanish, just an Indian language."
Gonzalo (the narrator of this chapter) is referring to his great-uncle. Since Gonzalo is from Guatemala, he is probably not using "Indian" to refer to the Asian subcontinent of India. Instead, he means someone whose ancestry is native to a particular place. There is much debate about how we should refer to these peoples: Indians? American Indians? Native Americans? Indigenous? Members of these groups typically have their own preferences regarding what to call themselves. Since Gonzalo is talking about his own family, he is using the word he is most comfortable with.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_name_controversy

Page 26: "People bent over like coolies, walking sometimes three or four blocks, a gallon jug in each hand, complaining all the time about the water."
Sam (the narrator of this chapter) studies words as a hobby, so his use of "coolie" seems particularly unexpected.

According to Merriam-Webster online, the term "coolie" is "usually offensive".

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coolie

Sam is probably using the word "coolie" to mean "unskilled laborer". However, in America, the word has derogatory connotations stemming from the xenophobic treatment of Chinese immigrants during the mid-to-late 1800s. It's probably best not to use this word casually, except in historical context, especially when speaking about a group that includes Asians.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolie

Page 26: "With a few exceptions, the blacks on one side, the whites on another, the Central Americans and Asians toward the back."
See the Politico source above related to "Negro". Using "black" as a noun is a subject of debate. The same could probably be said for using "white" as a noun. Saying "black people" and "white people" would be less controversial.

Page 36: Sae Young (the narrator of this chapter) is from Korea. Her entire chapter is written in broken English with poor grammar.
Though other narrators are also immigrants, this is the only chapter written in poor English. It feels like the literary equivalent of the on-screen Asian character having an accent. This kind of representation perpetuates the "other-ing" of Asians in America.

Page 43: "They liked to call me 'field slave' and 'sharecropper.' Ask how Massa's crops is doing."
This is an example of explicit racism. Young readers should understand this type of behavior is not acceptable. Some may need an explanation of "Massa".

Page 67: "It had been such a wonderful change to see people making something for themselves instead of waiting for a welfare check."
Not race-related, but the implication that people who receive welfare checks are lazy is troubling. This type of classism might also be worth discussing with young readers.

Page 69: "It was a little Oriental girl, with a trowel and a plastic bag of lima beans."
According to Merriam-Webster online, the term "Oriental" is "dated, now usually offensive".

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oriental

As with the use of "Negro", Florence (the narrator of this chapter) is an elderly person who might be accustomed to using the terms she grew up with. She probably does not mean to refer to Asians in a belittling way, but if she said it out loud, an Asian person might be offended.
Profile Image for Shelby.
258 reviews
March 25, 2017
5 Stars
I had to read this book for my English class and at first I thought I was not going to like it but it turns out while I was reading I really loved this book. I really love the set up of the book because it is about one garden and people come together as a community and plant vegetables. I really love how it was written and broken up into each of the characters thoughts, feelings, background information. I really like that a lot because you can feel and see what has gone in there life and why they are part of the garden. This was a really, really good book and I am glad that I read it.
Profile Image for Azaria Howell.
20 reviews7 followers
April 21, 2013
I didn't like this book. We had to read it for school, and I read ahead (sorry!) There was detail, but only in certain areas. The chapters were too short, and they introduced a new character in every chapter, with not much detail about the character. I didn't like the format of the story, and there are hardly any good words in this. The reading level of this is about 5th-6th grade, but I read at a much higher level than this, so it was easy for me to read. I really didn't like this book.
Profile Image for Elliott A.
182 reviews3 followers
October 14, 2016

This book is pretty boring. It has some of the most cookie-cutter characters I have seen in a long time. And there are 13 main characters. They all seem to be determined for something. This book has no tension. None. You don't care about any of the characters because of how a new one is introduced to you in EVERY CHAPTER. The writing is also boringly mediocre.
Profile Image for Stephanie Hawkins.
32 reviews4 followers
January 15, 2008
This book is fantastic! Told from the viewpoint of several different community members from various backgrounds, it is the story of a community pulling together to overcome racism, stereotypes, and social injustice. It all begins with a Vietnamese girl who goes to the abandoned lot to plant a bean seed and an elderly white woman who thinks she's hiding drugs and goes down to investigate. When she discovers that the girl was actually planting seeds, she feels so horrible that she starts helping her take care of them. This starts a chain reaction that ends in a community garden representing several different cultures and teaching a diverse group of people to get past their prejudices and work together to improve their neighborhood. It's short, easy, and wonderfully written.
Profile Image for Donalyn.
Author 8 books5,910 followers
June 5, 2008
When a young girl plants seeds in an abandoned lot in her neighborhood, she plants seeds that bring together her immigrant community. Each chapter tells the story of one neighbor and their experiences in the garden.

This is a great read aloud or engaging novella for a reluctant reader.
Profile Image for Steve Cran.
877 reviews88 followers
December 7, 2012
One can never tell just how deeply one simple action can change the world or your community. A young girl named Kim who came from Vietnam lives in an innner city area of Cleveland Ohio. She is mourning the deth of her father at an ancestral altar. He was a farmer before he was killed in a war. To cultivate a connection she plant thre beans in an abandoned lot. THe three seeds gow into plants but whatalso starts a snowball effect of a whole lot of positive. Elderly Ana looks down from her apartment and spies on the girl. Later she goes and checks it out. When she finds it is just beans she is relieved. Ana is a long time resident hwo has seen generations of immigrants come and go thorugh the neighborhood. Wendell her neighbor is clled to check on things and accidentally surpises young Kim. Eventually he persuades her that he is safe. Afterall he was just helping her garden. He too decides to plant. Gonazalo is a new immigrant from Guatemala, who is tasked with baby sitting his uncle Juan. Young people pick up English quick while the elders don't. THis leaves the elders to be like children and helpless. The garden gains momentum. Juan was a farmer in Guatemala. The garden gives him new life. Leona begins to grow golden rod which she beleives is a miracle cure for everything. Her grandmother swore by it. She takes a personal interest in the garden and takes her fight to the goverrmnt. In time more and more people friom various background come to the garden and start growing things. THe garden melds people form differnt backgrounds into one community. The end is climactic with a big festival that shows how they have become one. Whether one is directly involved in the garden it is still the pride of the community and it changes people..for the better. Excelent little read.
Profile Image for Megan.
309 reviews15 followers
April 14, 2008
This is the latest read-aloud in my room. In choosing it I knew I would have to edit some material as I read. The characters speak honestly about drugs and pregnancy, which is great, but not altogether appropriate for ten year olds. The story is about the creation of a community garden in Cleveland. Each chapter is told by a different character who has been (or is in the process of being)changed by the garden. The story is told simply and without preaching its message. By caring for living things people become more alive. The book also does a great job of showing how people can come together as a community. I hope this inspires my class to action. There is a garden next to my room that needs a little care and after testing my class will need a project.
Profile Image for Jaye .
215 reviews87 followers
February 6, 2013
A great book to read just before the blizzard is to cover us up. I needed some inspirational garden reading when everything is quiet and frozen outside.

This book starts with one little girl planting 4 bean seeds in memory of her father. The neighbors notice the garbage filled lot in which she is planting the seeds. It's an inner city lot.

Each small chapter tells the story of a person and how they come to start their own little plot planting. A community garden is born, re-establishing community caring in the process.
Why we garden is the focus. Planting leads to sharing.
Very much recommended.
Profile Image for Jordan.
355 reviews2 followers
February 7, 2015
In a rundown neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, a young Vietnamese girl becomes a catalyst for authentic, grassroots change. In an attempt to captivate the spirit of the father she never knew, Kim plants lima beans in a vacant lot, amidst the rat nests and broken car parts.

And then the neighbors notice. They do the same, and discover the power of growing, building, and changing something for the better.

Okay, it's a little saccharine. But my students liked it, and I think there needs to be a little more of that vibe in the classroom sometimes.

Buy this title from Powell's Books.
36 reviews33 followers
November 2, 2017
It was a really good book. It is a little short but it is nice. I like the message it gives. I love how all the characters are different none of them are even close to alike but they all end up becoming better as a community.
Profile Image for Tu Nguyen.
1 review
May 20, 2014
“Seedfolks” by Paul Fleischman is a short novel about a vacant lot which connected a community. I wouldn’t recommend that story to other readers. The story focused on new characters in separated chapters. The author didn’t repeat the previous characters. There is also no ending about how the community was connected.

First of all, the story has many different characters with different cultures and they all have a separate story with their own reasons to start planting something in the vacant lot. For instance, each character’s story just dropped after it was told. The characters in the story were disconnected. The author also didn’t dig deep into character’s care for others in the garden.

Second, the author didn’t repeat the previous characters to make the reader curious and that feels unfair. For example, the story began with Kim who is the little Vietnamese girl started planting lima beans in the vacant lot. However, as reading I can’t find any more information about her. I wonder how she feels about the vacant lot after it became a big garden for everybody. Besides that, I also want to know more about how people in the story feel about each other and how the vacant lot changed their neighborhood.

The story ends with one of the characters without a summary about how the vacant lot brings the community together. In my opinion, the author left the story half done. As I read it , I expected to find out whether Curtis won back Lateesha’s heart with his tomatoes or how Maricela changed herself after being a part of the garden. In contrast, the author didn’t mention it and that made me curious and I feel uncomfortable about that.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend the story for other readers who love to read a long novel with connected characters. Seedfolks focused on different characters with separated chapter. The story also did not go back to previous characters and didn’t even show how they feel about the garden and other people in the garden. For me, I feel like the author left the story half done with no summary at the end of the story.

Profile Image for Rosemary.
211 reviews28 followers
February 19, 2020
I read this charming book, written for tweens I'm guessing, in less than an hour today. I found a copy lying on one of the tables at the Literacy Center where I tutor and started leafing through it while one of my students was completing some exercises in a workbook. After the lesson I stayed behind and read the entire book.

A vacant lot in a rundown neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, is slowly transformed from a trash dump into a community garden when people start clearing sections of it to plant things that remind them of somewhere they used to live or someone they love. It starts with a young Vietnamese girl planting Lima beans for the father she never knew, with each short chapter told by another distinct character who reveals what they are planting and why. Immigrants from several countries grow foods from their homelands, urban dwellers who grew up in the countryside plant things from their childhood gardens; black people, white people, Hispanic people, old people, young people--everyone works hard, learning by trial and error in many cases. (I love the lady who persuades the city to come and haul away the trash. She is brilliant.) They figure out a system for watering plants, someone builds a barbecue out of old bricks and a party ensues, and people who were strangers are socializing and helping each other.

The book is highly readable. I think kids will like it, and adults will surely appreciate it, too. The title has a double meaning. All these people plant seeds so they are seedfolks. Seedfolks is also an old term for one's forebears, the first to leave their ancestral homes for a new land. So they are planting seeds and carrying on old traditions of growing things just like their seedfolks. And they have planted themselves in a new country where they hope to thrive.
2 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2015

Have you ever read a book you didn't like? Well I’m going to tell you why I didn't like Seedfolks. This book is realistic/multicultural fiction. There are people from all across the world in it. I think that something unique about Seedfolks is that each chapter switches from different character's points of view. The author, Paul Fleischman is from Santa Monica and now lives in Aroma. He has a history of gardening and there are some good gardening facts in the book. Seedfolks is about a community garden in a vacant lot in Cleveland with all different races. There is not one big plot line but in each chapter the character whose point of view it’s from has their own mini plot line. These plot lines include approximately how old they are, where they're from and many other facts about them. My favorite character was Curtis because he is strong and braggy in a funny way. He also added a little excitement to the story with his chill sense of humor. A quote from him is, “With this body I had other girls hanging on me at the time.”

I personally didn't think Seedfolks was good because there was very little excitement and the ending was very abrupt. I think adults and young adults would not find it very exciting or interesting but they would appreciate the lesson and theme of community. I think the author could have made it more interesting and exciting with a more genuine and thought out plot for the story. I think you can learn about communities, cultures, immigrants and family from this book. I think the main theme is community because everything in the book is based off community and the garden is one big community. I give this book two seeds out of five. I didn't like Seedfolks but maybe you will.

11 reviews
October 17, 2012
I think that Seedfolks would be a good book to use in a middle grades classroom. It would be an ideal book to use in my own opinion in a class that has multiple mixed races and different languages. The book shows how despite not knowing anything about a particular person you can get to know them. The book starts with no one speaking to each other and all the watchers assuming that the little girl who started the garden was hiding drugs, money or a gun. As the book goes on though the groups of people gardening begin to split up into areas that match their own culture. However, at the end of the book the different groups of people come together and begin to celebrate a “harvest festival” together. The book shows that even if you are different from someone else it doesn’t mean that you can’t get along with them. It just means that you may have to work a little harder to find a common ground. This could be related to students who are different from the general students and this book could help those who are singling out that particular student understand how they feel. This book would also be a good way to introduce a lesson on how cities are split up based on class and race even if it isn’t a good practice. It is still something that occurs every day and there isn’t all that much that we can do to stop it. The last lesson that I would do for this book is to split the class up and have them work outside of their own class. It would be a good depiction of this book considering that is how the garden worked.
Profile Image for Hieu.
16 reviews
November 9, 2014
Actually not that bad, it was interesting because it talked about food, and I like food, which made it interesting... but I liked the structure of the book with each chapter about one person also.
Profile Image for Sylvia McKamy.
2 reviews
November 7, 2017
Was a good book I like it. I love how they all are connected some how. And all are form different backgrounds, country and live. How the garden brought them all together.
Profile Image for Isabelle.
361 reviews
November 14, 2018
I had to read this book for English class. Now all of the following complaints would have been easily teachable moments that my teacher did not teach. I guess I'll let her get away with it, as she's probably the oldest teacher in the building and uses an overhead projector. I didn't even know what an overhead projector was until I got her!

Seedfolks was published in 1997, and many of the characters are old. None of these instances of racism are acknowledged as racism inside the book.

First, Ana, a Romanian woman born in 1915 uses the word "Negro". She does not mean to be racist, she is simply referring to African Americans by the terms she was raised on. Still, the author could have tried harder to show that "Negro" is a racist thing to say.

Next, Wendell, a school janitor, calls Kim, a Vietnamese girl, Chinese. (Not to her face.) This is actually probably the worst case of racism in here, as Asian would be a much better alternative and Wendell, who works around kids, should know better. It is not okay to call any Asian person a member of any Asian ancestry- Asians are not "all the same".

Third, Sam, a retired man, refers to everyone lugging water around to water the garden, including himself, as coolies. He does not mean this in a mean way at all, he probably believes he is just using an alternate word for "worker". The main problem is that Sam, who used to work for organisations promoting peace, should know the racist roots of "coolie". He even likes studying words! (It was actually my teacher that brought Asianness into this one. She attempted to define it by talking about how when they were building the railroads, lots of Chinese workers came, and they would only get low positions like lugging water. Not only is that a unclear definition, it is inaccurate. Chinese workers built the actual railroads.)

Finally, Florence, an old black woman, calls Kim "Oriental". (Not out loud.) Like Ana, this is just a sign of her old age that could have presented better.

When we read the Florence chapter out loud in school, I faked stupid and asked if Oriental was racist. My teacher explained that it is, and Florence is just being old. The reason this is interesting is because I could hear a classmate say as she began explaining, "No it's not, it's just a way to say way they came from." Previously, when another classmate pointed out that Kim's pin (we had a map of where everyone is from) was on Korea, she sort of mocked him, and said that no one would notice anyways. I also had her in my first grade class, and one day I said her buns made her look like a little Chinese girl. Then she said that she didn't think so, but she would if her eyes looked like this, and did the eye thing.

All in all, Seedfolks has great messages about not judging people, and with a little teaching at the right moments, is a great book to read in school. And my classmate is almost definitely racist.
Profile Image for Mikayla Beckman.
265 reviews3 followers
May 8, 2020
Okay so I am a total complete nerd and here is why. This book was on the required reading list for a class I am in, but do to corona and the cancellation of school we were no longer required to read it. However, being the scholar I am, I decided to take it upon myself to read it. And I have regrets.

I got this book from my public library, which has become my number one source of entertainment during corona season. The first thing I noticed other than the lack of pages, was that on the spine it had a sticker that said "kids". I thought to myself, why on earth would I be reading a children's book for a LAUDE class?? However, knowing the basis of the class, I kinda understand why we would typically read this book.

It just wasn't good. The premise seems like it could be, but it wasn't. Each "character" gets only a couple pages to tell their story, so absolutely no character is memorable. I know its supposed to be interconnected, but its almost annoying how interconnected it is. I want to say there is no plot, but there is a weak, unengaging plot. Which is almost worse than no plot. There is no character development because the characters don't say along long enough for us to even remember their names.

Don't waste your time on this one. I mean it was short and to some it could seem relevant, but it really didn't dive into anything too deeply which I found a huge flaw. Happy I read it so I knew what I was missing, but it turns out I was not missing much.
Profile Image for Nancy Kotkin.
1,396 reviews19 followers
April 16, 2017
Wonderful example of a story cycle novel for young adults, though adults can enjoy it as well. In an economically-challenged Cleveland neighborhood, a racially and ethnically diverse group of neighbors turn a trash-filled vacant lot into a community garden. Each short chapter introduces a new POV character, ranging in age from pre-teen to elderly. These people portraits fill in the plot, but it's really a character-driven story. Just like the neighborhood garden, the novel weaves a mosaic of strangers into a community. Through learning about each of the characters' unique situations, for their brief time in the spotlight, the story builds empathy and understanding. Plot-wise, it ends where it starts, bringing it full-circle back to another beginning.
Profile Image for Caridee Chau.
41 reviews4 followers
September 12, 2019
This is an amazing story of a community garden that starts out with a grieving Chinese girl in an empty lot behind her apartment building. This book jumps from people's perspectives, giving the reader a clear view of the story as it progresses. "Seedfolks" effectively shows that teamwork between people can result in magical things. The community garden may be fenced, but that does not stop people from bringing in cans full of water for all to use and working together to hire a homeless man to guard their precious crops from the peril of being stolen. I recommend this book to those that enjoy reading fiction.
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