Books by Judy Pedersen

SEEDFOLKS by Paul Fleischman
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 11, 1997

Using the multiple voices that made Bull Run (1995) so absorbing, Fleischman takes readers to a modern inner-city neighborhood and a different sort of battle, as bit by bit the handful of lima beans an immigrant child plants in an empty lot blossoms into a community garden, tended by a notably diverse group of local residents. It's not an easy victory: Toughened by the experience of putting her children through public school, Leona spends several days relentlessly bulling her way into government offices to get the lot's trash hauled away; others address the lack of readily available water, as well as problems with vandals and midnight dumpers; and though decades of waging peace on a small scale have made Sam an expert diplomat, he's unable to prevent racial and ethnic borders from forming. Still, the garden becomes a place where wounds heal, friendships form, and seeds of change are sown. Readers won't gain any great appreciation for the art and science of gardening from this, but they may come away understanding that people can work side by side despite vastly different motives, attitudes, skills, and cultural backgrounds. It's a worthy idea, accompanied by Pedersen's chapter-heading black-and-white portraits, providing advance information about the participants' races and, here and there, ages. (Fiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
GATHER UP, GATHER IN by M.C. Helldorfer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

A lyrical prose poem that celebrates the four seasons using fresh, inventive images and luminous illustrations. Autumn is presented as a gathering time; images of grapes and geese, squirrels and leaves, nuts and Halloween candy are skillfully woven together. Winter is a time of secrets buried in ice, with mysterious footprints in the snow. Spring is a dream that begins in winter and eventually spills forth, with warm showers, bright blossoms, and seeds like shining wishes. Summer spins around, with lights and fireworks, waves and hills. The only quibble here is with the intended age group: Very young readers will find the entire concept too abstract, although they may respond to the gorgeously colored pictures. This would serve a slightly older (at least five) audience better, so save it for a while. Altogether, a beautiful, imaginative rendering of seasonal changes and what they feel like to those who are experiencing them. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >