by Paul Fleischman
Analysis: What's Up With the Title?
Did you find yourself poring over every online dictionary, frantically looking up the word Seedfolks? Us too. But as it turns out, Paul Fleischman made it up. Luck for us, one of his characters does some explaining for us. Take it away, Florence:
My great-grandparents walked all the way from Louisiana to Colorado. That was in 1859. They were both freed slaves and they wanted to get good and far from cotton-growing country. They went over the mountains, just to be safe, and homesteaded along the Gunnison River. Which is how my grandfather and my father and my sisters and I all came to be born there, the first black family in the whole county. My father called them our Seedfolks, because they were the first of our family there. (13.1)
Florence's Seedfolks are her grandparents, because they're the first people in her family who planted themselves down in one spot. (And then, of course, the rest of the family lived there for years and years). But each character in the story has their own background and their own story to tell, so everyone's Seedfolks will be different.
But when they come together, don't they all kind of become Seedfolks themselves? They're the first to plant anything (including themselves) in the garden, and we have a feeling they'll have a long line of people doing it after them.
Sure, this whole book is about planting seeds in a community garden. But we're thinking it might just be about planting folks in a community, too.
One More Thing
Florence, we'll see your explanation, and raise you another possibility. It's a pretty central issue in Seedfolks that all the characters come from different ethnic backgrounds, right? And there's a decent amount of talk about race and prejudice, too. Is it possible that instead of seeing these characters as black or white, Mexican or Polish, we're supposed to see them all as Seedfolks?
What do you think?