Study Guide

Seedfolks Introduction

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Seedfolks Introduction

We've got a question for you, Shmoopers, and this one's a doozy: why can't we all just get along?

We're not trying to bum you out, but it's true: life is full of disagreements. Sometimes it's a small thing, like a brawl with your sibling over who finished the ice cream (obviously it was your sibling.) And sometimes it's much, much bigger. Whatever the issue, Paul Fleischman is here to give us a solution to our problem: a garden.

Wait, a garden? Like some soil and some flowers?

Yep, you read that right. In his novel Seedfolks, we've got a garden that's bringing people together like whoa.

So here's the deal: Seedfolks takes us to a neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio where, well, let's just say not everyone gets along. We're talking prejudice, racism, the whole nine yards. So the bad news is that our characters have a lot of issues to overcome. The good news? Things are about to change when a handful of neighbors take over a vacant lot and start up a community garden.

Ever since Fleischman published Seedfolks in 1997, it's been a super popular book—it was even nominated for the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award. And don't pretend you're surprised. After all, it's a good read and gives us the key to world peace. Pretty decent combo.

What is Seedfolks About and Why Should I Care?

It's great to feel like you belong somewhere, don't you think? But here's the rub: community sure isn't easy to come by. Nope—it can actually be super tough to find your place. Perhaps you've moved to a brand new city and had trouble finding new chums. Or maybe you're starting a new school year and you're worried about fitting in. We've all been there.

You know who else has struggled to find community? The characters in Seedfolks, that's who. Yep, even in a big city like Cleveland, the characters in Seedfolks have a tough time finding a group of people they can call their community. In fact, for years, tons of the neighbors who live by Gibb Street don't even know each other's names.

But when one little girl decides to plant some lima beans, she changes the whole neighborhood for good. Once neighbors start growing plants side by side, then they get to know each other. They share fruits. They swap flowers. And before you know it, these folks have such a sweet community that we're feeling all mushy inside.

Seedfolks has us remembering that it can be tough to find community, but sometimes we'll find it where we least expect it. Like in a teeny tiny lima bean.

Seedfolks Resources


Nice to Meet You Mr. Fleischman
Check out Paul Fleischman's website and get caught up on the author's latest writings. Hint: he's written a lot.

Take a Sneak Peek
Haven't picked up your own copy of Seedfolks yet? Well take a look at the first story here. We guarantee it'll get you wanting more.

Real, Live Gardens
Fleischman wasn't making it up: community gardening is actually a pretty big deal in Cleveland.

Articles and Interviews

Paul Fleischman Was a Kid Once, Too
Take a look at this interview with Fleischman, and learn all about his young days as a budding writer.


Dig Into the Details with Fleischman
Watch this interview with Paul Fleischman, and he'll tell you everything you want to know, from the book's origins to his father's cornfield in the front yard (true story!).


Chatting It Up with Fleischman
NPR does Seedfolks. Here, you'll hear Fleischman talk about how the book relates to his life. You'd never guess it, but apparently the guy's not a great gardener. Who knew?


A Picture's Worth a Thousand Seeds
Pretty snazzy cover, eh? Does your favorite storyteller from the book have his or her portrait featured right up front?

In Action
Is this how you pictured it?

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