The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World

By: Nancy Castaldo

People have risked their lives to save seeds—and to save humankind from famine. In fact, seeds are so important that they’re stored in secret vaults all over the world! Call to action. List of resources for acquiring seeds. Suggested resources for additional information. Glossary. Author’s note. Sources. Time line. Index. Full-color and black-and-white photographs and illustrations.

ISBN: 9780544320239

JLG Release: Jun 2016


Sensitive Areas: Cannibalism, Graphic description of death, Suicide
Topics: Agriculture , Disease , Diversity , Genetic engineering , India , Russia and the Soviet Union , Seed banks and conservation , The United States , Nikolai Vavilov (1887-1943) , The Vavilov Research Institute

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Awards & Honors

Booklist 2016 Top 10 Books for Youth, Science & Health
NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books 2017
The Nonfiction Detectives, 2016 Best Nonfiction Books for Children
Green Earth Book Award 2017, Winner, Young Adult Nonfiction

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

The Horn Book Magazine, The Horn Book Guide^, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

Castaldo notes that because of climate change, big farming, and habitat loss, our planet is losing biodiversity “at a depressing rate,” and she proceeds to lay out the frightening hazards of monocultural agriculture—from the Irish potato famine to the current decimation of banana and coffee species—and the use of genetically Castaldo notes that because of climate change, big farming, and habitat loss, our planet is losing biodiversity “at a depressing rate,” and she proceeds to lay out the frightening hazards of monocultural agriculture—from the Irish potato famine to the current decimation of banana and coffee species—and the use of genetically engineered seed stock. Along with doing her best to raise reader anxiety about this issue with statistics and ominous trends, she also highlights the often-heroic efforts of scientists to create and preserve seed banks, notably the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry in Saint Petersburg and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. Additionally, she introduces a slate of worthy “Seed Warriors,” from pioneers such as Luther Burbank and Nikolai Vavilov to the contemporary likes of Dr. Sanaa Abdul Wahab El Sheikh in Iraq, chef Sibella Kraus, Indian activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, and Carl White Eagle Barnes, “Cherokee Corn Elder.” The author caps her plea for action with suggested activities and with extensive lists of print and online resources, seed “libraries” in and beyond the United States, and advocacy organizations. As Castaldo cites examples of biopiracy and agroterrorism and contrasts genetic modification research with “natural” hybridization, her approach is distinctly alarmist; offer Natalie Regis’s Genetically Modified Crops and Food (Britannica, 2016) to readers after a more judicious evaluation of GMOs. VERDICT An impassioned call to action, likely to leave readers both scared and inspired.—John Peters, Children’s Literature Consultant, New York City

Horn Book

“Some 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost since the 1900s . . . More than 90 percent of crop varieties are no longer being farmed . . . half of our calories . . . come from just three [plants]—rice, maize, and wheat.” This eye-opening book on the science and politics of agriculture serves as a wake-up call to read “Some 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost since the 1900s . . . More than 90 percent of crop varieties are no longer being farmed . . . half of our calories . . . come from just three [plants]—rice, maize, and wheat.” This eye-opening book on the science and politics of agriculture serves as a wake-up call to readers about the fragility of something many of us take for granted: our plant-based food supply. Castaldo clearly lays out a case for the importance of plant diversity (“Seeds equal life”), presenting engaging scientific and historical information about agricultural science, genetics, and biodiversity along with variously alarming and inspiring accounts of global politics, industrialism, and grassroots activism. Numerous photographs of the plants and people involved in plant and seed preservation are included, as well as profiles of notable scientists and activists: Soviet scientists who died of starvation during the siege of Leningrad while protecting edible seeds; an Iraqi scientist who buried priceless seeds to protect them from destruction during the recent wars; an Indian scientist who works tirelessly to fight industrial takeover of cotton farming traditions; and local activists across the United States who are creating seed banks to preserve heirloom varieties of crops. An appended “Call to Action” section contains practical steps to take—from joining a CSA to writing letters to Congress. Copious resources invite further investigation. danielle j. ford

Book Details

ISBN

9780544320239

First Release

June 2016

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

Trim Size

5 1/2" x 8"

Page Count

144

Accelerated Reader

Level 0; Points: 0;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;

Lexile

Level 1110L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Cannibalism, Graphic description of death, Suicide

Topics

Agriculture, Disease, Diversity, Genetic engineering, India, Russia and the Soviet Union, Seed banks and conservation, The United States, Nikolai Vavilov (1887-1943), The Vavilov Research Institute,

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