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Seed Savers-Lily in the Classroom

In a previous post I explained how Seed Savers-Treasure could be used in the classroom. Today’s post will feature Seed Savers-Lily, the second book in the series and currently available in paperback and ebook. The Seed Savers series take place in a future where gardening is illegal and real food virtually unknown.

It should be noted that although Lily is the second book in the series, books one and two can be read in either order.

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  • Paperback: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Flying Books House (August 30, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1943345090
  • ISBN-13: 978-1943345090
  • Also available digitally
  • Available through Ingram or purchase online from your favorite retailer
It’s definitely not what she had in mind for summer vacation.

When her friends disappear under mysterious circumstances, thirteen-year-old Lily sets out to discover more about the secret organization with which they were involved. Her investigation unearths a disturbing secret from her own past, unsettling her world even more. 

In the meantime, Lily makes a new friend and falls for a mysterious young man even as she remains unsure whom to trust. As her world crashes down around her, Lily struggles to decide what to do next.

Lily is volume two of the Seed Savers series but can easily be read out of order. It is is a suspenseful and reflective book with themes of self-empowerment, trust, acceptance of diversity, gardening, and politics.

“In Lily, young people continue to secretly grow vegetables, an illegal act in their world. They form diverse friendships across ethnic lines as they search for truth behind unanswered questions. Lily encourages readers to bravely work for a better world!”
–Joyce Yoder, middle school teacher and principal

Themes: coming of age, friendship, trust & betrayal

Gardening topics: 

guerilla gardening

preserving food, i.e. drying, canning, freezing the harvest

making tea from herbs

indoor gardening

edible landscaping

Possible Subject Area Tie-Ins beyond Gardening and Language Arts:

Science: How can photosynthesis work in a basement greenhouse? Canning, drying as ways of preserving.

Math: measuring to plot a garden space; calculations for using drip irrigation for indoor gardening

Social Studies: food politics, culture and religion, sustainability, ethics (keeping secrets), climate change, racism, sanctuary

Art: depicting characters, setting, garden; designing seed packets

Technology: create a book trailer; create a video game; powerpoint book report

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Say Goodbye to Jack-O-Lantern & Hello to Pumpkin Pie!

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A few weeks ago I helped out at our local community center with pumpkin carving. As I was chatting with some of the kids one of them asked, “Can this be made into pie?”

“Oh, yes,” I answered. “I always turn mine into pie.”

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Now granted, I suppose there are better and worse types of pumpkin varieties for “best pie practices,” but I honestly use whatever I have. I proceeded to explain that when the jack-o-lantern starts to sag, they need to get a move on it. “It’ll start to grow gray hair,” I explained. I told them to throw that part away and cook the rest down, and then whir it up in a food processor. It wasn’t a step by step, just a quick explanation . . . answering the question and alerting them to the possibility.

My daughter had the same thing happen to her while carving with a child, and she was quick to answer “Yes!” too.

I love that kids ask, don’t you? It shows they’re putting two and two together. Hmm? Pumpkins . . . pumpkin pie?

Well I know for a fact that we have a couple Jack-O-Lanterns out on the porch starting to sag, so if you don’t mind, I best be off . . . I’ve already committed to taking a couple of pies to the community center Thanksgiving dinner . . .

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Here is my favorite pumpkin pie recipe. I like this one because I’m too lazy anymore to separate the eggs and whip the whites. And rather than evaporated milk, this recipe uses condensed milk to get the sugar and milk all in one.

Pumpkin Pie

2 cups of pumpkin puree

1 (14 oz) can condensed milk

2 large eggs

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

9 inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk ingredients until smooth; pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake 35-40 minutes more until knife comes out clean.

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Reveling in Fall Colors

 

In an area known more for large evergreen trees, fall in these parts has been spectacular this year. I know there’s a reason for this based on the weather, etc., but rather than research that, I’m just going to say how much I’m enjoying it. The bright yellows and reds actually seem to lighten up the outdoors even on cloudy days like today. And yes, western Oregon has lots of clouds for many months of the year.

I live in a neighborhood of “tree streets”: Maple, Hickory, Pine, Walnut, Cherry, etc. And the names are no accident. It’s an older neighborhood, so many of the trees are really large. And yes, the leaves are a job to rake up, but raking leaves is one of my favorite chores!! (I also enjoy sorting laundry in case you were wondering.)

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And of course it’s not just the tree leaves that turn color, but also the blueberry bushes, the snowball bush, and even my blue hydrangeas have turned red!

Tonight we end daylight savings and it will start being dark by 4:30 soon . . . the part I hate most about winter. But until then, I dutifully rake up the leaves each day and haul them out to my compost pile in the alley.

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I hope wherever you are (where it is fall!) that you’re also enjoying beautiful autumn colors!

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Seed Savers-Treasure in the Classroom

Whenever I speak at events or even have a table in the vendor section, teachers always ask if there are teaching materials to go along with my Seed Savers books. The short answer is no, not yet. The best I’ve done so far is make a list of book themes, garden tie-ins, and other subject area tie-ins.

Thinking about classroom use is one of the reasons Seed Savers-Treasure is on audio. As a teacher myself, my students and I always enjoyed listening to books on audio after reading a chapter together first.

My hope is that eventually there will be classroom materials. Until then, I’ll share some of the themes, gardening aspects, and subject area tie-ins.

For book one, Seed Savers-Treasure, here’s the scoop:

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  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Flying Books House (June 11, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1943345058
  • ISBN-13: 978-1943345052
  • Also available digitally and audio
  • Available through Ingram or purchase online from your favorite retailer

In a future where growing your own food is against the law, twelve-year-olds Clare and Lily, and Clare’s seven-year-old brother Dante, risk their safety by studying the illegal subject of gardening. The children’s mentor, Ana, entices the children with her description of the food she knew as a child—food unlike the square, packaged food they have always known. Constantly watching, however, is GRIM, the government agency that controls the nation’s food source and keeps in check all potential troublemakers. When Clare and Dante return home one day to find their tomato plant seized and their mother jailed, they bolt, leaving behind Lily and Ana. Clare has heard of a place called “The Garden State,” and with their bikes, a little money, and backpacks, the children begin a lonely cross-country journey that tests them both physically and spiritually. Will they succeed in their quest to find a place of food freedom?  And can they, only children, help change the world?

Themes: journey/quest, sense of self, questioning authority, making a difference, hope & courage

Gardening topics: parts of the plant, germination, genetically modified seeds, planting & growing of tomatoes and carrots, container gardening, bees as pollinators

Possible Subject Area Tie-Ins beyond Gardening and Language Arts:

Science: parts of plant, germination, photosynthesis, Scientific Method

Math: calculating geographical possibilities of where the children traveled, the distance they covered, etc.

Social Studies: food politics, culture and religion, sustainability, ethics, climate change

Art: depicting characters, setting, garden; designing seed packets

Technology: create a book trailer; create a video game; powerpoint book report

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Seed Savers-Treasure is a recent Mom’s Choice Gold Award-Winner

 

 

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

 

 

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Seed Savers-Treasure Awarded Gold

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In September, Seed Savers-Treasure was awarded a gold Mom’s Choice Award.

What is Mom’s Choice? Mom’s Choice Awards are not just book awards.  The Mom’s Choice Awards “evaluates products and services created for children, families and educators.” (From their website.)  I’ve seen it compared to the Good Housekeeping Seal. A Mom’s Choice Award is a seal of approval for excellence in family-friendly products and services.

I’m very proud that Treasure was awarded gold. Thank you, Mom’s Choice!

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Two kids, two bikes, and an idea they can change their world. It’s 2077. There’s no apocalypse, but some things are different. Things like the weather, the internet, and food. In twelve-year-old Clare’s world, blueberry is just a flavor and apples are found only in fairy tales.

Then one day Clare meets a woman who teaches her about seeds and real food. Ana tempts Clare with the notion that food exists other than the square, packaged food she has always known. With Ana’s guidance, Clare and her friends learn about seeds and gardening despite suspicions that such actions are illegal.

When the authorities discover the children’s forbidden tomato plant and arrest their mother, Clare and her brother flee. Clare has heard of a place called “The Garden State,” and with their bikes, a little money, and backpacks, the children begin a lonely cross-country journey that tests them both physically and spiritually.

Will they succeed in their quest to find a place of food freedom? And can they, only children, help change the world? Treasure is a gentle dystopian, frightening only in the possibility that we may not be far from the future it paints.

Check out this recent review of Seed Savers-Treasure.

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Lily Guerrilla Gardens

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Here is an excerpt from Seed Savers-Lily when she first sees Arturo’s backyard.

Arturo called out ahead of us. “Abuelo!  Lily is here.”

We walked straight through the house and out the back. An old man was rocking in a wicker chair under a hastily-made awning. He wore a straw hat and held a pint-sized dog. The man turned and watched as we came through the door. Buenas tardes,” he said, nodding.

“Papa is still at work—”

Arturo stopped midsentence as he turned and saw my face. My eyes had wandered from the old man to the yard. I had expected something different. The way Arturo talked about his garden I’d imagined something … well … something beautiful. Instead, the yard resembled an abandoned lot filled with weeds and junk. My normal poker face failed to hide the disappointment. Arturo’s eyes, too, betrayed him–registering his own disappointment in me.

“Come, Lily, look. Look close.” Arturo grabbed my hand and pulled me after him, off the concrete slab and out into the yard. “You see?” he urged.

I saw weeds. I kept looking.

“Here,” Arturo said, breaking off a flowering plant and putting it first under his nose and then under mine. “You know it?”

It was familiar, one of the herbs I’d grown, but which one?

“Cilantro,” he said.

“It flowers?”

“Yes, of course. It make seed for us to save and plant more.”

I looked around, trying to spot familiar plants. “Most of these are weeds, aren’t they?” I asked.

¡Ay! What is a weed? A weed is only a plant that is unwanted where it grow.” Arturo pointed to the multitude of blooming dandelions in the yard. “People eat these for hundreds of years. Is good.”

I stood and stared. Could this be true? People ate weeds?

“You don’ believe me? Here,” he plucked a flower, then a leaf. “Taste.”

I took a nibble. “Bleh.” Not good.

Arturo laughed. “Sorry. Is no so good, now. Better before the flower starting. But I like. And is good later, after the cold tambien.”

Arturo moved through the tangled yard like a ship in familiar harbor, pointing out vegetables I hadn’t noticed and weeds he said were edible. In the stacks of tires and old sinks, vegetation of all sorts spilled out. Arturo raised his eyebrows, nodding toward an unfamiliar and luscious green plant.

“Potatoes.”

I remembered potatoes. I had read about them but hadn’t planted any. I had no ‘seed potatoes’ to get started. From what I recalled, potatoes had been an important staple in countries around the world and were still grown here and used in our processed food groups. They were an underground crop. Arturo definitely had my attention now and he knew it.

“How … ” I didn’t know what I wanted to ask.

“You want to see?”

I nodded.

Crouching down Arturo put his fingers around the base of the plant feeling in the dirt. “Ah,” he said, “a nice one. Abuelo,” he shouted back at his grandfather, something in Spanish. The old man laughed.

“Good one,” he told me, “big. I am surprising Abuelo miss. He like to steal some new potatoes during the summer.”

Arturo grabbed my hand, pulling me down, then placed it in the dirt onto a firm round potato, its red skin slightly showing aboveground. “Potato,” he said, close to my ear. “Papa in Spanish.” The whisper in my ear sent goosebumps scurrying across my shoulder blades and down my arms. Our hands were together in a treasure chest of gold. My heart beat fast and I felt warm all over. I wasn’t sure at which moment my excitement over the potato changed into an awkwardness at my nearness to Arturo, even though his hand no longer covered mine but was off searching for more potatoes. He was pulling them out of the ground, dusting them off.

“Go on, Lily, try to find.”

I gathered myself together, concentrating on the garden rather than my emotions. I dug around, but all I felt was dirt.

“Try another,” he said, pointing toward other potato plants I now recognized growing in old barrels and appliances.

“How?” I faltered, finding my voice at last.

“Like I show you. Feel near the plant, how you say, soft.”

“Gently?”

“Yes,” he smiled, “gently.”

My fingers poked down at the base of the next plant. I didn’t mind the dirt pressing under my nails. I moved my hand out away from the base and hit something hard. I felt out the shape of it. “I found one!” I called. I remembered the time Dante pulled the first carrot from the ground. More buried treasure.

Seed Savers-Lily is the second book in the Seed Savers series. The series takes place in a future where gardening is illegal and real food unknown by the younger generations. Find out more here.

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Hello Again

October is here and I’m not really sure what happened to September, but there it is. How to begin and get back into the swing of blogging after too long away?

Septemeber threw a lot my way in terms of roadblocks and hurdles, but most of them are resolved for now so it’s time to move forward.

A Few Updates:

In terms of the Seed Savers series, book 2, Lily debuted with the new cover and new edition on Lily’s birthday, August 30. Treasure has recently been awarded the Mom’s Choice Gold Award and continues to receive great reviews that warm my heart. Heirloom has been delayed until the beginning of January, but we are closing in on the new cover. The final two books hopefully will also be out next year, but it is a slower process than anticipated.

My garden fared wonderfully this year and is finally winding down. I still have more hot peppers than I need. I’m thinking of preserving them in oil which I’ve never done before. Earlier in the year I went a little crazy picking cherries and are preserving those in brandy and bourbon. 🙂

My husband and I visited Yellowstone for the first time ever and we loved it! Well, except for the detour to the hospital due to the high altitude and husband’s low oxygen level. 😦

And now, to help my writer’s block, photos :):

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What have you all been up to? How were your summers? 

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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