The Book Reviews – Website

September 21, 2008



Author: Paul Fleischman

Page Length: 102

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Realistic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY & REVIEW: While focusing on a worn-down inner-city Cleveland community, the author does an excellent job blending the perspectives of 13 individuals. Even though all the characters are as different as night and day, they become unified through a vacant lot turned garden paradise.

I truly enjoyed this book because it approached the topic of differences (age, gender, race, and culture) in a unique way. The transformation of the community’s rat infested vacant lot into a garden begins with a little Vietnamese girl, Kim, searching for a way to gain attention from her deceased father. In her search, Kim decides to plant some beans in the hard ground of the lot next to her residence. This act stirs-up curiosity as well as motivation from the others who live near by. Slowly the other 12 characters begin to approach the lot and add their own “seeds” to the ground. Not only does this diverse group of individuals begin planting their own vegetables and flowers, they begin “planting” their own personalities amongst each other’s presence – sharing their stories and personalities to a community that has been scared to walk the streets!

Gradually this community witnesses a social transformation powered by the act of one little girl’s small plot of beans. The community garden is a symbol of change, promise, and hope to this group of strangers turned friends. Many of the characters in this book gained various modes of inspiration – inspiration to walk outside of their apartments, inspiration to reconnect with a past loved one, inspiration to better their financial situation, inspiration to move beyond a life of seclusion, inspiration to clean up their town, etc.

In several communities across the United States, Seedfolks has been chosen as a “citywide read”. The power of collective reading and group change shines through this story. I highly recommend this book!!!

AREAS FOR TEACHING: characterization, point-of-view, cause/effect

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: racial overtones and descriptions are prevalent throughout the book, however the context of them is appropriate, the word “marijuana” is used (page 32), biblical comparisons are stated several times in the story

RELATED BOOKS: Bull Run (similar style of writing with it’s varied use of point of view)


REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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