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World Read Aloud Day is Coming!


About a week ago I read the most wonderful Twitter thread on read alouds. I’ve been meaning ever since to add my two cents here on the blog.

One of the tweets said something to the effect of “I remember every book ever read aloud to me in school.” In terms of novels, so do I. My fourth grade teacher read us Charlotte’s Web. Probably a little every day after recess … I don’t recall. What I do remember is this: every day after riding the bus home I would retell the part read in school to my mom. I retold the entire story to my mom, one chapter at a time.

We lived on a farm, so I’m guessing the story was read in the deep of winter because otherwise Mom would have been out in the field working. As it was, she was usually down in the basement cracking walnuts by hand. I’d go on down and retell Charlotte’s Web to her as sort of a captive audience. But I remember she always seemed excited and eager to listen. What a good mom.

Needless to say, I loved the story.

My fifth grade teacher read us The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Wow! Even though I think in fifth grade we were starting to think we were too old and too cool to be read to, it wasn’t true. Again, it was wonderful. I didn’t read widely in elementary school and probably because we didn’t actually have a library at our school or a librarian so it was hard to find books I enjoyed more than playing outside. But I loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and of course went on to read all of the Narnia books many times over and even write a paper in college referencing the Chronicles of Narnia.

I didn’t own many books as a child, but my husband and I raised our two kids to be readers, and readers they are! We read aloud to them until the day they grabbed the books out of our hands and starting reading to us!

It’s no great wonder why audiobooks are so popular; they are after all, just someone reading aloud to us.

Do you have special read aloud memories? I hope so. Feel free to share in the comments.

World Read Aloud Day is February 1st this year! #wrad19

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


Teachers – I want to visit your classroom!


I announced this last week in my newsletter, and I still have openings!

In April I’ll be attending a conference in Chicago and afterward I plan to travel back home to Oregon by train. I thought it would be fun to visit a few schools along the route home (transportation costs minimal for the schools!)

I’m looking at three possible routes, and I’ll make my decision depending on feedback from YOU. If you are interested in an author visit from me, Sandra Smith author of the Seed Savers series, take a look at the Amtrak routes below. The visit would be during the middle of April (roughly the 11th through 18th). Let me know if you are interested and depending on how many people I hear from along the different routes, I’ll make my decision.

Questions? Please use the contact form for email or comment below. Thanks! (All routes start in Chicago)

#1 California Zephyr

california zephyr

#2 SW Chief

sw chief

#3 Texas Eagle

texas eagle

Also, depending on the east-west decision, I will be available in California for part of the Coast Starlight route.



I’m looking forward to meeting you!

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


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A Cover is Not the Book, But it Helps

Just got back from seeing Mary Poppins Returns with A Cover is Not the Book still running through my head. A cover may not be the book indeed, but a good cover will certainly help your book get noticed. I’ve been meaning for a while to write a post about the book covers for the Seed Savers series, so this little ditty is pushing me to finally do it.

Working with a small press (Flying Books House), I’ve been blessed to have a great deal of input on my book covers. Let’s take a look at the cover of Seed Savers-Treasure.


Starting on the right are tomatoes. The Seed Savers series is set in a future where gardening is illegal and real food mostly unknown. The children in book one, Seed Savers-Treasure learn about seeds and food from an older acquaintance who becomes their mentor. The first seeds are tomato seeds.

Along the top are apples. The first time the children hear about real apples is from the mentor, Ana, as she describes what it is like to bite into a fresh apple. Later, while on a journey to find a place where gardens still exist, the children spy what they believe to be an apple tree and consequently taste their first apple. At the end of the book, the children are surprised to find themselves in an “apple forest.”

The peaches on the left and that wrap around the back of the cover represent Ana’s favorite fresh fruit which she describes as “summer sunshine.”

In Seed Savers there are also secret signs and symbols the children learn about and follow on their journey. One sign is purple lupines and another is a circle within a circle, both also represented on the cover. And of course the center graphic shows Clare and her brother Dante on their long bicycle journey traveling only at night.

I think the illustrator, Alan Baker, and the cover designer, Shannon Bodie, did a terrific job, don’t you? It’s a great cover, but as the song says, “a cover is not the book so open it up and take a look.” 🙂 (Lyrics from Mary Poppins Returns Music by Marc Shaiman; lyrics by Scott Wittman)

Order Seed Savers-Treasure now. (Amazon)

Barnes & Noble


For bookstores, libraries, & schools, all books available through Ingram.

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

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Seed Savers-Heirloom Release Day!

Just in time for the new year, Seed Savers-Heirloom is ready to order!

In case you haven’t heard of the series, Heirloom is book three in the five-book Seed Savers series. It can be read out of order, in case you were wondering. For a quick overview of the series go here.

For the lowdown on Heirloom read this.

Today’s nugget is this: each of the books now has a “continue the conversation” resource page at the end. Today I’m posting the resource page links for Seed Savers-Heirloom. You can see by the links what kind of real-life topics are covered in the book.

Resources to Continue the Conversation

Seed Libraries & Seed Banks



Hydroponic Gardening


How to Fold Origami Cranes


Climate Refugees


Drying Herbs


Why Soil Microbes Make You Happy


Parasitic Wasp Larvae Video (**OH GROSS WARNING**)


Qualla Boundary


GM Food Awareness


Saving Seeds


Gardening Programs for Kids: American Horticultural Society & Junior Master Gardeners



More Food and Food Politics





Does this list make you curious? Get a copy of Seed Savers-Heirloom today! 🙂

Seed Savers-Heirloom at Barnes & Noble

Seed Savers-Heirloom at Indiebound

Seed Savers-Heirloom on Amazon

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


To All the Bloggers I Never Met Before (And Some I Have)

alcohol alcoholic beverage celebrate

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Two days ago, the last day of the year, I received a wonderful surprise: a two-page (nearly) handwritten letter. I say nearly, because it was typed, but it was not a form letter. It was from an old friend . . . sort of. The letter, full of news of my friend’s life, was from someone I’ve never actually met.  You see, we met as bloggers. Or maybe it was because her daughter read my book and she commented on my blog. But it’s been at least five years since then and we’ve been in touch online and by snailmail before, but it’s been a while.  What a pleasure to receive the letter!

It got me thinking about the other people out there that I know only long-distance. There’s Jemima who lives on another continent who I’ll likely never meet. But she retweets me on Twitter often and leaves encouraging comments on my blog. There’s Michelle who I often emailed with all kinds of questions when I first started out as a self-publisher of middle grade books. She was always quick to answer and share what she knew.

And then there are the people who I met online and then later got to meet in person. Andi in Texas who was the very first blogger I sent my book to way back in 2012. When she said, “If you’re ever in Texas…” I remembered and a couple of years later we met in Houston! There’s Carol in Florida, a Master Gardener who read my book and later emailed me. We met last year at a Master Gardener conference.

As the old year ends and a new one begins, the letter I received reminded me how wonderful it is to hear from friends, and how sometimes we can still look forward to meeting friends for the first time. 

A toast to friendship, near or far. Blessings in the new year.


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

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Countdown to Seed Savers-Heirloom

Today is the last day of 2018. Always a good time to take stock of how the year went and to look forward to the new year and new beginnings. Around here we’re excited for the release by my new publisher (Flying Books House) of a new and improved Seed Savers-Heirloom. Here’s the blurb in case you are new to the Seed Savers series:

It’s late in the twenty-first century and large corporations have merged with U.S. government agencies to control the nation’s food supply. Gardening is illegal and most people no longer know what real food is.

Thirteen-year-old Clare and her brother Dante have escaped to Canada where the old ways still exist. There they meet the roguish Jason and learn the political history of their own country’s decline of freedoms.

Meanwhile, Lily, the friend who was left behind, begins a journey to find the father she never met–a former leader in the ill-fated Seed Savers rebellion of fifteen years earlier. From Florida to the Smoky Mountains, Lily follows the signs in search of her father and is helped along the way by the quirky characters she meets. Not to mention the attractive Arturo who shows up midway to “protect” her.

Heirloom seamlessly weaves the gentle agrarian story of Clare and Dante together with the swiftly-paced adventure of Lily and Arturo. Themes of family, empowerment, and politics meet in this futuristic tale nostalgic for the past.

Here is the great new cover for Seed Savers-Heirloom:


Seed Savers-Heirloom is book 3 in the Seed Savers series, but don’t worry, you can start with it and be fine. The first book, Seed Savers-Treasure, is definitely middle grade reading material, while Heirloom edges up a little older.

Heirloom releases IN JUST 3 DAYS!!! (January 3, 2019). So if you’ve finished all those books you got for Christmas, here’s a new one to look forward to. Order (or preorder) your copy of Seed Savers-Heirloom today!

Seed Savers-Heirloom at Barnes & Noble

Seed Savers-Heirloom at Indiebound

Seed Savers-Heirloom on Amazon

Happy New Year! 🙂

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

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Seeds with Stories: Excerpt from Seed Savers-Heirloom

Now that Seed Savers-Heirloom is available for preorder, let me just say how much I enjoy this book. I know it sounds a little weird and very immodest, but I do love reading Heirloom, and believe me, I’ve read it numerous times in polishing, proofing, the re-release, etc. And I still always get drawn in…

Heirloom has dual storylines and even dual POVs. The exciting, adventurous storyline is the story of Lily, as told by Lily, as she travels across the country looking for her long-lost dad. The sweet country life of Clare and Dante, now gardening refugees in Canada, is less exciting but lovely. Their story also unveils the political history of the U.S. that led to the present state of illegal gardening.

I also think the new cover for Seed Savers-Heirloom is outstanding (shout-outs to illustrator Alan Baker and cover designer Shannon Bodie!), right down to the kudzu taking over the title!


Here is an excerpt from the Clare and Dante storyline that speaks to the book’s title, Heirloom. Clare and her Canadian host mom are browsing seed catalogues.

Clare had been learning about the 1980s in school. It sounded like an interesting time to live, before too much technology or so many restrictions. But it was such a long time ago . . . Her brow furrowed as a new thought struck. “I thought people saved their own seed.”

Marissa laughed. “Some do. I save seed from a few plants. Cilantro, peppers, certain flowers. But this is easier. And it’s fun to look through catalogues and send for the pretty packets. What’s wrong?”

Clare’s mouth had turned down in a frown.

“It’s just that . . . well . . . what’s the big deal about Seed Savers if you can just buy seeds?”

“Oh honey,” Marissa said. “It is a big deal. What if what happened in the States happened here? People who save seeds are important. Besides that, there’s a lot to be said for having seeds suited to an area. Sometimes the seeds I order from catalogues don’t grow well here. On the other hand, locally grown and saved seeds are well adapted to a particular place and always do great. It’s important.”

“I don’t get what you’re saying.”

“Okay,” Marissa said, flipping ahead in the book, “let’s look at the tomatoes.”


Marissa pointed at a picture of long, red-striped tomatoes. “Striped Roman. OP—that stands for open pollinated. You know about pollination?”


“You can plant the seed from an open-pollinated tomato such as this and expect to grow the same tomatoes. Over time, plants change and adapt to the local growing conditions and year-to-year climate. So if I saved my own seeds, the plants from my seeds would be better for this area than seeds I randomly purchase. That’s why many places have seed banks and seed libraries. Food security.”

“Seed banks? Seed libraries?” Dante walked in just as Marissa was making her point about saving seeds. “Can I check out some seeds?” he asked, giggling. “How long do I get to keep them for? Do I hafta pay a fine if they’re overdue?”

“Oh go away, silly,” Clare said, unwilling to be interrupted.

“I’m hungry,” Dante complained.

“You are a growing boy. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt for you to have a small snack,” Marissa said. She saw the startled look on his face. “Not that kind of snack. Snack here still means eating a bit between meals, it’s not one of those ridiculous packaged food groups you’re used to . . . oh for heaven’s sake.”

“Warm up a bagel and have it with peanut butter,” Clare suggested, still nervous Marissa might get distracted before her questions were answered.

“Yes,” Marissa agreed, “that’s a fine idea. Can you handle that, Dante? Clare and I are in the middle of something.”

“Of course,” Dante answered, deepening his voice.

“Tell me about the seed banks and libraries,” Clare said.

“Hmm. Like I said, seed banks and libraries are about food security, knowing you’ll have food if you have access to seeds—and the ability to grow them, of course. A seed bank usually consists of volunteers who grow out plants that thrive in their area and then harvest and store the seeds. When there’s enough seed to share, they do that too. But there is always seed in the vault, so to speak.”

Clare was nodding her head. “And seed libraries?” she asked.

Marissa chuckled. “Well, just like Dante said, in some libraries you can actually “check out” seeds. You take some home, plant ‘em, save some of the seeds to bring back at the end of the season. Instructions come with each packet as well as a code for Monitor instructions. Each seed library works a little differently, but that’s the general idea. They’re not everywhere, but Hudson has one.”

Clare wanted to ask Marissa if they could visit the one in Hudson, but held back.

“One other thing,” Marissa said, “about buying seeds every year versus the importance of saving seed . . . see these?” She pointed at a photo of some thick-looking tomatoes dubbed Kobe Beefsteak. “F-1, that means these seeds are hybrids. With hybrids, the pollen of two varieties has been crossed to produce a new plant. I sometimes order hybrid seeds, but I would never be able to save seed from these plants. They wouldn’t be true, that is, wouldn’t grow the same beautiful tomatoes we see here. If anything ever happened and I couldn’t buy seeds, eventually I’d run out. People who plant and save non-hybrid, open-pollinated seeds are guaranteed a food source.”

“What about these?” Clare asked, pointing at the next page. “Heirloom? My mom said our Bible was an heirloom. I thought it meant an old thing passed down in families.”

“That’s right. All of the seeds marked heirloom are open-pollinated seeds that have been grown and saved and passed down in a family or community for generations. Seeds with stories, some people say.”

Clare’s eyes moved over the page slowly, caressing each photo of plump tomatoes, reading the enchanting descriptions and histories of the seeds.

Seed Savers-Heirloom at Barnes & Noble

Seed Savers-Heirloom at Indiebound

Seed Savers-Heirloom on Amazon

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

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