A Homeschool Mom Meets Seed Savers

November 14, 2013 at 4:02 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

blog-tour

Click to follow the tour and visit the next blog.

The thing about homeschooling – the awesome thing – is that plans are made, expectations logged, and as a parent you do a lot of letting go of both of those things as your child sort of takes over.

I personally planned on going full force into the alphabet and phonics, drill numbers and be sure my three year old was the smartest on the block.  At age two she already knew all the states on the U.S. map south of the Mason Dixon line.

Kiddo, God, and the universe, had other plans.  And I like them.

With the help of S. Smith’s Seed Savers series, some extreme budgeting issues (I’ve been the poorest person I know for the last twelve months), and Merriweather’s fabulous foraging site (see the links on the right), we’ve pretty much spent our ‘school days’ in the woods.

It all started many, many moons ago (as I like to say to my kiddo when telling stories)… somehow I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Seed Savers: Treasure from S. Smith by mail.  I remember reading some of it out loud, but then giving up and devouring it all alone.  I gave up because I wanted to read it faster, I wanted it all to myself, not because Kiddo was anything but cooperative.

P1000450What resulted is a long standing admiration for S. Smith, requests for her to participate in Earth Day 2013 (which she graciously accepted from 3000 miles away) and taking Kiddo to said Earth Day celebration.  Before Seed Savers, I was already on a mission to be more self-sufficient and have my own garden, but Seed Savers really solidified that need in my heart.  Instead of *wanting* to do it, I got my butt in gear and did it.  This shift in my mentality eased over into the preferences of my daughter.

She loved the Earth Day celebration.  She got to plant seeds with volunteers from the Mercer Arboretum.  She got to watch me raffle off S. Smith’s first two books (Treasure & Lily), and it was all over – these Fall plans I had noted during my pregnancy were half out the window.  Without hearing the entire Seed Savers story, Kiddo fell in love with seeds.  S. Smith’s words are so powerful they radiate into every aspect of our house just by sitting on the shelf.

We have seen and read The Lorax more times than I can count.  On her third birthday her great-grandmother gave her spending money and she spent it at Good Books in the Woods on two Cat in the Hat Learning Library books.  One is on Rainforests and the other on Seed Planting.

P1000435We spend our days looking for birds on the trails, foraging for produce, growing our own bell peppers and okra, and now reading Heirloom as we tromp through the woods.

However, you don’t have to be a mom, a conservative, a homeschooler, a toddler, or a hippie to enjoy the Seed Savers Series.  Seed Savers, including the latest – Heirloom – is full of courageous characters, a rich adventure, and exciting philosophical food for thought.

What started out as a really unique young adult dystopian society concept on Smith’s part, has evolved into something more than we initially bargained for.  The story is more complex than I anticipated. The effect on our lives has more reach.  Smith has matured as a writer along with the growth of her characters.  I’m a little disappointed that the stories will, at some point, come to an end…

If you don’t believe me, find out for yourself.

Purchase the Seed Savers Series from Amazon

Visit the Author’s Website: http://authorssmith.com

Go Like Her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/AuthorSSmith

Follow S. Smith on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AuthorSSmith

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It’s HERE!

November 5, 2013 at 6:57 pm (Events) (, , , , )

Guess what I’ll be reading this evening? The third installment of the Seed Savers series! Heirloom is here and I have the distinct pleasure of kicking off the blog tour on the 14th!

blog-tour

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April 2013 Events

March 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In addition to Book Club (first Monday of the Month) and Poetry Night (first Thursday of the Month), this is what’s going on at Half Price Books Humble in April. Keep checking back, there may be more to come!
Journaling 2ndthurscoloring contest 2013Earth Day with MercerEarth Day 2013Chris RogersMary Reason Theriot April

Martin Epi Raffle

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The Long-Awaited Lily

November 25, 2012 at 9:49 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Well, it felt like a long time, because I was so anxious for it.  In reality, Smith is quite the efficient authoress.

Title: Seed Savers Volume 2 “Lily”

Author: S. Smith

I read the first installment of Seed Savers early this last summer. I loved it. I was so excited to find a new “undiscovered” young adult author and immediately blogged about it.  Illegal gardening, fresh produce, dystopian society, kids on the run… how much more exciting could it possibly get? Way more, that’s how much.

With the arrival of Lily, I expected to get “the further adventures of Clare and Dante,” but what I got was much more.  Lily, a side character in the first book, Treasure, tries to continue the mission of saving seeds in her hometown after the disappearance of Clare and Dante.  Rather than getting “Treasure” all over again, a common fault in sequels in general, Lily is a book all its own and full of secrets, secrets, and more secrets.  Not only was Lily hiding plants from Dante and Clare, she has a past she wasn’t even aware of, a past that could change everything.

Smith succeeded, again, in writing a fantastic and educational adventure that I cannot wait to share with my nieces and nephews, and later with my daughter.  It is so fun and refreshing to read something new, something real, that doesn’t have anything to do with vampires, werewolves, or zombies.  Although there is a time and place for such fantasy fiction for young adults, it’s nice to know that there are authors out there that have something more on the brain than the latest (recurring) fad that has swept the nation and the world.

Seed Savers is about using your brain, questioning the world around you and how it should be, becoming a better person, and making the world a better place.  These are things every kid should be encouraged to do.  And for the adults reading these books, it reminds us that many kids want to when they are given the chance.

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November 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm (Uncategorized) ()

I can’t wait for Lily! My review of Seed Savers: Treasure can also be found here with the original cover art.

I am happy to announce that Seed Savers, book 2, Lilyis on its way! It will be available soon both in paperback and kindle versions. In Lily, we find out what really happened to Ana and what Lily does after she discovers Clare and Dante have left town. GRIM becomes more personal, and Lily learns a family secret that changes her life.

I will be running special sales prices for both Treasure and Lily at different times during the holiday season, as well as a book giveaway at Goodreads and some free ebook days. Since I haven’t yet determined the dates, please sign up at the tab on the right to receive the newsletter (Newsletter Signup Form). This will not be an email clogging situation; I will simply use the newsletter to let folks know when new books are available and when there are special deals (and…

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Weekly Low Down on Kids Books 6/26/12

June 27, 2012 at 12:51 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge and Karen Patkau is a breath of fresh air in the world of children’s counting books – almost literally.  All about planting a garden and counting first the number of seeds planted for each plant type and then the number of items harvested from each plant, One Watermelon Seed not only teaches counting from 1 to 10 and counting by tens, a kid can also learn what certain plants look like.  See not just a tomato plant, but enjoy a look at the tomato and its inside as well.  I loved it, Ayla loved it (she’s really into numbers and counting right now), and over all its a winner.

One Watermelon Seed reminded me of another recent favorite:Seed Savers: Treasure.  If you are a mom of kids in various age groups, I recommend using both these books (Seed Savers for middle grade students, One Watermelon Seed for small children learning to count and identify plants) as introductions to the world of botany.  Both books are great for creating interest in starting a back yard garden, and would be a great way to get your kids exciting about being involved in the gardening life.

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Interview with S. Smith

June 15, 2012 at 4:07 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , )

I’m excited to share with you all an interview with S. Smith, author of Seed Savers.  The book is my top favorite pick for young adults this week, this month, this year, and possibly this decade.  The interview may contain some spoilers.

1.       This is quite a political statement, was that your intention?

Not so much.  I think it was more about my love of good food.  Seed Savers is a love story starring home-grown food.  I love food—growing, harvesting, cooking, eating, and sharing it.  And I think a lot of people these days maybe are missing out on that.  I grew up on a small family farm and we always just ate what we grew, putting the fruit and veggies up for the winter and enjoying the goodness of how much better everything tasted than the “store kind.”  Sure, politics obviously comes into the book, but it’s much more than that.

2.      I read on your blog that Senate Bill S510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, inspired the story line.  But what made you choose to tell the story through the eyes of children for children, instead of writing a piece more geared towards adults?

Actually, although I mention Senate Bill S510 as being the idea behind my story, I believe I wrote Seed Savers prior to hearing about it.  I started writing Seed Savers in April of 2010, and most of the internet frenzy on the bill came out after that.  I think a friend told me about the bill after reading a draft of my story—it’s hard for me to remember exactly.  The inspiration for the book and the reason I wrote for children is covered in the blog titled “How It All Started”(May 2012).

3.       There are many documentaries floating around about the habits of companies similarly described in the history of your futuristic world.  Have you seen any of them? If so, which ones did you consider the most inspirational or informative? (I’d like to watch them.)

Here in Salem we enjoy the Salem Progressive Film Series, which is a “volunteer organization dedicated to educating and raising awareness of important current events.”  They bring in great documentaries and speakers once a month.  I have enjoyed going to many of these.  I’ve watched movies on water, dirt, food, urban gardening, MONSANTO, etc.  As mentioned in the “How It All Started” blog, Food, Inc. truly was a part of the inspiration for my book.

4.       You must be a gardener! What are your favorite household ‘crops’? (Mine are lemon balm and rosemary  – for the smell, of course.)

Oh my gosh.  Well I do live right in the center of town, so I only have a very limited amount of space for my own little garden, but I do love growing tomatoes—I’ve been starting my own from seed for about the last four years—and yes, the fresh herbs are wonderful (cilantro, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsely, dill, oregano….).  I also have strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and one boysenberry bush.

5.       The lupines are a symbol of safety for the children during their flee from oppression to knowledge and fruitfulness (both literally and figuratively).  Why the lupine? Does it hold special significance for you?

Well, I think that’s covered in the book.  Mt. St. Helens is sort of in our backyard here in Oregon, so we get a lot of coverage about whatever is going on up there.  I either heard on t.v. or read somewhere that lupines were the first plant life to come back after the devastation of the volcanic eruption and I jotted it down to use in my book.  I still have the scrap of paper on which I wrote it down.

6.       Seed Savers is reminiscent of titles like The Giver and Invitation to the Game.  Do you often read dystopian society literature? What are your favorites?

The Giver is one of my favorites.  I also really love Fahrenheit 451 and The House of the Scorpion.

7.       Your book is peppered with verses from the Bible as well as symbols regarding Mother Earth.  Do you mind me asking about your religious beliefs? What’s your life’s mission statement? (This is something I find particularly fascinating about writers in general, how C.S. Lewis’ beliefs seeped into The Chronicles of Narnia, the infrastructure of Orson Scott Card’s science fiction and that of Mormonism, and so on…)

“To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly…” 🙂  I am a Christian, but more importantly, I had to be true to my characters.  I didn’t want flat characters, and children at that age often do go to church and have strong beliefs.  My two favorite books, Peace Like a River and The Secret Life of Bees, both have spiritual themes running through them.  And let’s not forget that Twilight begins with a quote from Genesis.

I certainly hope the book can be viewed for all of its layers and not dismissed on account of some Bible verses.

8.       When can we expect Book Two in your series?  Have you written the whole series and just timing their releases or are you writing as you go? (I’m dying for the next installment already!)

Thanks! Book two, Lily, will probably be out sometime in August.  It is completed and in the editorial process right now.  Treasure will be available on Kindle devices soon (in process right now).  I have not written the entire series yet, but do have a brief outline.  I am currently about one quarter of the way through the first draft of book three.

9.       The kids do a lot of traveling as they run away from home to Canada, in the last third of the book.  Do you enjoy travel? Have you been to Canada? What are your favorite things about both your hometown and your favorite place to visit?

Is this a spoiler?  Yes, I enjoy traveling a lot, but as I get older, I dislike flying more and more.  I have been to Canada, but only British Columbia, not Quebec.

Oregon has often been referred to as “the Eden at the end of the Oregon Trail,” and for good reason.  It is very green here, and we have gorgeous lakes, rivers, and forests.  I live in the Willamette Valley, so when I go to a place without mountains in the horizon, it’s a bit disconcerting.

My favorite place to visit is Logan Pass on the Continental Divide at Glacier National Park in Montana.  Even though I live in a valley, I absolutely love standing on the top of high places and looking down.  🙂

10.   Is there anything you’d like to share about yourself or your work to your readers and fans that hasn’t already been discussed?

I think Seed Savers is very timely in regard to topics such as the urban garden movement, food deserts, childhood obesity, school gardens, etc. The science teacher at my school (who also has a gardening class) was very much of a help and encouragement to me as I was writing the story.  We like the idea of kids having a novel to read in science or gardening class for that literacy tie-in.  In regard to my writing process, I don’t always know what my characters are going to do next.  They often surprise me as much as they might surprise you (perhaps even more so!) 🙂

Thank you for interview!

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Seed Savers – a series to be treasured

June 8, 2012 at 1:00 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I haven’t been this in love with a young adult series since Harry Potter.  I haven’t been this in love with an individual young adult book since Lois Lowry’s The Giver, unless you count How To Buy A Love Of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson (but her book, though it features a group of teens, is not really for young adults as far as I’m concerned.) I plucked it out of my mailbox, opened it, and read it in one sitting… 221 pages of exciting young adult goodness!  I devoured it, and it was delicious.  Book One of Seed Savers, titled Treasure, is no misnomer.  This book is truly a treasure!

Author S. Smith has written the latest and greatest of young adult dystopian society novels.  In the spirit of the previously mentioned Lowry novel and and Monica Hughes’ Invitation to the Game, Smith has given us solid middle grade tale featuring a new (and somewhat real) futuristic threat – illegal gardening.  It’s yet another great pre-cursor to students preparing to read Orwell’s 1984.  Educators everywhere should be aware of this rising star in children’s literature.

The detailed history of how this society came to be is part of its unique twist.  Most dystopian society stories don’t spend a lot time telling you how it got this way, just that it did and people didn’t notice, the path somewhat alluded to but not specific.  Smith helps point out the steps leading up to this future with factoids that suspciously resemble things that are happening in both the farmlands and corporate America.  From living organism patents made legal in the 1980’s to genetically engineered seedlings, Smith spells out just exactly how this future (though a little outlandish in a society newly obsessed with being eco-friendly in its marketing) could quite possibly go from where it is now to the kind of United States described in the book (corporations and the government in bed with each other making trouble for the little people – Banks, anyone?… in combination with the idea that a government can make a plant illegal – marijuana comes to mind).  Yet, she does this effortlessly, without killing the flow of the story.

I personally love social commentary presented through the art of fiction.  (You like this too? Check out this site: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/371512?uid=3739920&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=56242603693).  I find it compelling and quite frankly the best way to address particular situations that when written about in a nonfiction format becomes an irate rant.  I love the way it personalizes events and characters in a book so quickly, in a way that the average story cannot do.  Get under the skin of an art fanatic… make it impossible for art to be appreciated, collected, loved (if you’re not a reader, check out the movie Equilibrium, then again, if you’re not a reader what’s up with you reading my blog? What brought you here? Leave me a comment.) Tug at the heartstrings of a gardener… attack the very core of their being by telling them in this reality, they can’t have one.

Needless to say, I loved it.  S. Smith, you are brilliant, my dear, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.  This one is going on loan to my nieces and nephews, is getting short listed on my very long list of required reading for my daughter who will one day be homeschooled.  It will be the fun fiction to parallel our botany classes that week, the friendly reminder of why she will be taught to tend her own garden, and perhaps raise a chicken.

Buy Your Copy of Seed Savers Today!

Visit the author’s website here: http://authorssmith.com/

Want to start your own garden (before its too late!), check out Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5Lu-7FIj_g

Also for fun, check out this blog: http://www.thisgardenisillegal.com/

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