#MGReview: Seed by Caryl Lewis, illustrated by George Ermos

Cover illustration by George Ermos, published by Macmillan Children’s Books 12th May 2022

When you read as many Middle Grade stories as I do, you learn that one of the aspects that makes them so special is the element of hope that runs through stories for this age group. This new publication from Macmillan Children’s Books contains bucketloads of hope. It also contains bucketloads of less savoury but quite hilarious ingredients, but I’ll leave you to discover those for yourself!

This is a fantastically big-hearted and empathetic story of two children faced with different challenges in life, who through their stores of inner resolve, combined with support from significant adults and a little natural magic, go on a crazy adventure which catalyses genuine changes in their lives. I loved every twist and turn of the narrative. Caryl Lewis has created three-dimensional characters who engage your interest from the moment you meet them. Her writing style creates a perfect balance between quirky humour and compassionate insight into the difficulties faced by those who are “othered” in society, wrapped into a hugely enjoyable modern-day fairytale. The black and white illustrations by George Ermos add to the enchantment of the story, the drawing of Grandad’s allotment shed made me smile every time I greeted a new chapter.

I can’t bear the thought of ruining anyone’s enjoyment of this story, so I am going to avoid describing the plot in any detail. Suffice to say that in true fairytale style, we are presented with characters who initially have to deal with what look to be insurmountable hurdles; Marty who lives in poverty as a young carer for a mother with mental health issues and Gracie who copes impressively well with her cochlear implant but is more challenged by divorced parents who seem to have very little time to devote to her non-material needs. Throw into the mix an irrepressible Grandad, a sympathetic teacher, school bullies and the most marvellous allotment community, and a tale emerges like a seed of hope which infects an entire town.

Seed is one of my favourite books of the year so far. A fantastic fable of self-belief, inner strength and the realisation that small seeds of encouragement can blossom into full-blown hope for the future. This would make an excellent class read for children of 9+ and will be a necessary addition to all upper KS2 classroom and school libraries as well as a fabulous half-term or summer holiday treat for readers of 9-12.

I am most grateful to Antonia Wilkinson PR and Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me a review copy of Seed in exchange for my honest opinion.

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