Seed by Caryl Lewis and George Ermos
|Seed by Caryl Lewis and George Ermos|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: What grabs you here is the great feel of accuracy when it comes to outsider characters; what you're left with is gratitude too for a wonderful, fantasy-driven adventure.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: May 2022|
|Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books|
Marty has two parental figures in his life, and they both might be thought of as complete embarrassments. His grandfather runs an allotment, and manages to stink the entire town out from it when he douses it in fish guts each spring to fertilise his vegetables. His mother somehow combines the dual roles of housebound failure and hoarder – while she seems to do nothing and hasn't left the building in years she has still managed to fill it to the brim with junk. What Marty's classmates don't know about this they can draw lines to from how poor Marty always looks, with his one school uniform built from lost property. We see him as once again the council threaten her and him with eviction, and as he celebrates his birthday with the gift from his grandfather of a solitary plant seed.
Now, this seed is of course completely important to the story, and in its spectacularous, bonkers rate of growth and kind of electrical aura it gives off is by far the only unrealistic thing about it all (well, that and the complete lack of security at these allotments). Our author seems to have really got into the heads of elderly allotmenteers, manically hoarding housewives, and more, for early on here Marty gains a friend in the shape of Gracie, a deaf girl ignored too often by her single dad. Gracie's biggest wish is to become a dancer, and it was she that (alongside adding a bucketload of warmth to proceedings as the friendship formed in its inevitable way) made me feel a surprising reaction to this wonderful read, and surprisingly early on, too. I just got to more or less a third way through and said to myself 'this needs to be filmed'. Gracie wouldn't be the only deaf dancer on our TV screens now, but the representation she could offer would be wondrous.
All told this is a joy – lighthearted and classically whimsical when it needs to be, more contemporary and emotion-charging when called for. It seems picking something as transformative as that seen in Jack and the Beanstalk, and putting it in a modern, everyday context, is surprisingly effective, and where I may have predicted that having both Gracie's issues and those caused by Marty's mother would have been one set of topics too many, and bogged the piece down, everything is done in a light, non-preachy manner. Ultimately, it's just a wonderfully inventive story, with great verve in the telling, and a story you just have to hang on to every word of.
Wished by Lissa Evans has a slightly similar approach, in that it too covers people needing the urge to grab those bull's horns and go on an adventure.
You can read more book reviews or buy Seed by Caryl Lewis and George Ermos at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Seed by Caryl Lewis and George Ermos at Amazon.com.
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