Cambridge Book Review

[Issue #9, Winter 2002-3]




The Magic Seed
By Sharon Price
Illustrated by Alexandra Artigas
PowerPartners USA, 2002

Reviewed by Kate McGinnity


Sharon Price's The Magic Seed is a charming children's fable designed to teach self-esteem within the family and the community. Suma and Sulu are twin siblings who succumb to anger and jealousy until their tribal grandmother saves them with two magic seeds and a healthy dose of ancestral wisdom. "A long time ago when the creator made the first people," she tells the children, "he wanted to make each person different but equal. The creator knew each animal was special and had unique gifts, so he asked them to help."

The raccoon's talent is for exploring, the butterfly expresses poetry and grace, the cricket is a woodsong crooner, the ant is a builder, and the elephant is loyal and strong. The legend of the seed is meant to remind each of us how to nurture and celebrate our individual talents. "If you do not believe in or share the gifts within you," the grandmother explains, "your seeds will not grow and you will be consumed by The Forgetting." Price's clever use of Gnostic-like terms such as "The Forgetting" and "The Knowing" add a Harry Potterish flavor of magic and mystery to the proceedings.

Ms. Price takes her readers on an exotic journey in which the lessons are never heavy-handed. Each animal in the rain forest, like each individual in the tribe, has a purpose and a function that ultimately contributes to the greater good. Compassion is a key component of the story. Intergenerational respect and connectedness are exemplified in the children's bond with their grandmother. Topics of contemporary concern such as anger management, cooperation, and civility in competitive situations are addressed allegorically in a colorful folktale setting.
Today for some reason... some awful, horrible, terrible reason... Suma would not be happy unless she was faster than Sulu. The Race was on! Despite all her huffing and puffing, Suma reached the riverbank far behind her brother. Suma stomped her foot and her heart grew cold. In that moment, she had forgotten all of her own special gifts -- inventing games and songs and sending her arrows straight to the mark with amazing ability. "Why is Sulu always faster?" she mutter angrily to herself.

The Magic Seed will be a welcome addition to any household or classroom interested in encouraging self-expression and diversity. Having read the book aloud to my five-year-old son, I can report that he enthusiastically asked me to repeat the story three times in one sitting. Enchantingly illustrated by Alexandra Artigas, The Magic Seed should delight all kids in the range of five to twelve years old.

The Magic Seed can be ordered online at themagicseed.com

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Kate McGinnity is an education consultant living in Cambridge, Wisconsin.



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