by Paul Fleischman
Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
The characters in Seedfolks sure are a chatty bunch. All thirteen narrators give us a super casual tone when they're telling their tales. Whether they're talking about happy times or sad ones, these characters keep it nice and relaxed.
Check out how Leona tells us about her quest to clean up the vacant lot:
You ever watch a sax player close? They push down a key and way at the other end of the instrument something moves. That's what I was looking for—the key that would make that trash disappear.
Notice how she uses the word "you"? It's almost like she's talking right to us. And her casual tone has us eager to hear this friendly lady tell us more.
But it's not like these characters are totally laid back. They can also get pretty jazzed when something cool goes down in the garden. And that's when the casual tone becomes more excited. For Curtis, he's been telling us his tale in a super relaxed tone, as if we're best bugs. But when those tomato plants start growing, you can bet Curtis's gets a bit more energized:
I'd never grown anything before. I got into it. Every day something new. The first flower bud. Then those first yellow flowers. Then the tomatoes growing right behind 'em. (9.5)
Curtis seems more stoked about those tomatoes than he did about his biceps. And that's saying something. What lets you know that Curtis's tone is excited here? We're thinking it's the way he keeps repeating the word "then." It's as if he can't wait to tell us the next part of the story because he's just so stinkin' excited about those growing tomato plants.
And you know what? Curtis's excitement has us feeling pretty energized, too.