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Gr 5 Up-Paul Fleischman creates a heartwarming story by weaving together a series of short vignettes about a vacant lot turned community garden. Set in a rundown section of Cleveland, Ohio, Fleischman's Seedfolks (HarperCollins, 1997) are a broad cross-section of ages, ethnic origins, and occupations. What unites all of these characters is the way they are changed by the simple act of growing vegetables or flowers. From the Vietnamese girl seeking a connection with the father who died before she was born. to the elderly wheelchair bound man who reconnects with the world, each character is unique. This audiobook capitalizes on the diversity of the characters by using a large cast of narrators drawn from around the world. Though listeners may find some narrators difficult to understand, the richness of the variety of voices adds authenticity to the recording. Cassettes include chapter listings, and the sound quality is good. Seedfolks is a nice addition to audio collections where Fleischman's work is popular, and worthy of inclusion in libraries serving ethnically diverse communities.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library. Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Arraying different voices like threads on a loom, Fleischman (Bull Run) weaves a seamless tale of the advent of a garden in urban Cleveland and how it unites a community. Here Fleischman slips with equal ease into the voices of a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl grieving for the father she never knew; a retired peace activist; a shopkeeper from Delhi; a dedicated British nurse; a 39-year-old Korean widow and crime victim hesitantly rejoining the world; a pregnant Mexican teenager; and seven other equally diverse characters. Fleischman carefully adds texture upon texture, crafting his story with wry humor and lustrous imagery: dead leaves reappear as the winter snows melt away "like a bookmark showing where you'd left off"; beans inadvertently uprooted are laid back in the ground "as gently as sleeping babies." The story's quiet beauty unfurls effortlessly‘and lingers after the final page has been turned. Ages 10-up. (May)

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