Clare tapped the packet lightly, the open end down. Two tiny specks, flat and tear-shaped, fell into her other hand… “Seeds,” Clare explained, “make food.”
“Get out of here!” Lily cried. “You can’t make food. Everyone knows that food comes from Stores and from Delivery Trucks if you have government ration tickets—but people can’t make food.”
In a not-too-distant future, gardening is outlawed, and seed savers have gone underground in an attempt to preserve precious seeds for the day when the bans might be lifted. An old woman, Ana, fearing her secrets might die with her, trusts some knowledge and seeds to three young children: Clare and Lily, age 12, and Clare’s little brother Dante.
The children accept public after-school tutoring from Ana, but she teaches them more about seeds than about Math. They secretly plant a few seeds in Clare’s bedroom and in a nearby vacant field and avoid the government officials who seem to be suspicious. But one day they arrive home from school to discover their mother has been arrested and their home ransacked. The plants are gone.
Clare and Dante flee on their bikes, trying to remember the signs of how to find other seed savers. They become fugitives heading north for the Canadian border, much the way slaves escaped along the Underground Railway in the 19th century.
Book 2, Seed Savers: Lily continues the tale of the best friend left behind. Lily sets out to discover what happened to her missing friends, unearthing a disturbing secret from her own past.
But this week we’re celebrating the release of the third book, Seed Savers: Heirloom. In this final volume, Clare and Dante attend Garden Guardian classes in Canada while Lily continues the quest to find her father, a former leader in the Seed Savers movement who was arrested and jailed before she was born. Along her journey she meets a host of interesting characters, and more surprisingly, herself.
The Seed Savers series is a gentler dystopian for younger readers. With the very real pressure on home gardening right now in 2013, this future seems sadly believable and, as a Canadian, I’d like to think my nation would stand by seed preservation (while in reality, we’re in equal danger here.)
Kids can learn how precious biodiversity is and how miraculous seeds are through the adventures of Clare, Dante, and Lily. They already have a natural fascination when they get the chance to watch seeds grow into plants—food they can eat.
If you’ve got middle-graders on your gift-buying list, why not pick up this series for them? While you’re at it, read it yourself, then plan as a family how you can help preserve the future of seeds.
S. Smith grew up on a farm with a tremendously large garden. She maintains that if you can’t taste the soil on a carrot, it’s not fresh enough. Although she now lives with her husband and three cats in the city, she still manages to grow fruits and vegetables in their backyard garden.
A licensed ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, Ms. Smith has enjoyed teaching students from around the world.
Ms. Smith is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and an OSU Master Gardener. She gardens and writes at her home in the beautiful and green Pacific Northwest.