One Leaf Rides in the Wind

Written By: Celeste Davidson Mannis

Illustrated By: Susan Kathleen Hartung

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Take a moment to look over the cover and illustrations before you begin reading. Encourage your child to make predictions and observations about the story by asking questions like:

What do you think this story will be about?

Where do you think this little girl is from?

What is she holding in her hands?

{Flip to an illustration} What do you think is happening in this picture?

Ask your child if s/he knows what a haiku is. If not, say that a haiku is a three-lined poem that originated in Japan (where this story takes place), with each line consisting of five, seven, and five syllables, respectively. Look to the back of the book for more information on haikus and Japanese gardens.

As You Read

Let your child help you count the syllables of a few of the poems in the book as you go along. Remind your child that each poem should have five syllables on the first line, seven on the second line, and five on the last line. Also be sure to read the small text at the bottom of each page. These paragraphs contain additional information about each Japanese principle or tradition that adds to the story.

Vocabulary Building:

Help your child with vocabulary acquisition by encouraging him/her to stop when s/he comes across an unfamiliar word. Allow him/her to discover the word’s meaning by using the illustrations and words around it. Examples of new words in One Leaf Rides the Wind include:       




Making Connections:

One way to make the story more enjoyable is by making it more applicable to your child’s own life. To do so, simply ask questions that relate certain events in the story back to his/her own experiences and allow him/her to make connections. For example, if you have your own garden, have a community garden near by, or have visited a garden in the past, ask questions like “How is our garden similar to this Japanese garden? How is it different? What kind of flowers do we have in our garden? Which one do you like better? Why?”

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret:

Allow your child to make any final observations or comments and ask questions like these to gauge his/her understanding of the story:

Did you like this story? Why or why not?

What was your favorite part of this story?

What is a haiku?

What are some things that the little girl saw in her garden?

Activities: Japanese Tea Ceremony and Write Your Own Haiku

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Inspired by Kids Cooking With Cricket


Supplies for Tea: A whisk, bowl, scoop, teapot and green tea (like bancha, hojicha or sencha)

Supplies for Green Tea Dora Yaki: 7 oz. organic pancake mix, ½ cup of milk, 2 tablespoons, green tea powder, 1 large egg, 1 cup blueberry jam, butter or vegetable oil for cooking

Let your child continue to appreciate Japanese culture by hosting a traditional Japanese tea ceremony! Follow these helpful directions to prepare green tea and green tea dorayaki (a yummy Japanese treat made of sweet pancakes wrapped in red bean paste (in this case, blueberry jam) and host a real tea ceremony.

Make the Green Tea Dorayaki (Serves 5)

  1. Let your child help measure 2 tablespoons of green tea into a medium mixing bowl. Add milk, egg, and pancake powder into the bowl and mix it well.
  2. Add ½ teaspoon butter or oil to a large frying pan and heat on medium for 1 minute.
  3. Spoon dollops of batter into the pan, each around 4 inches in diameter. When bubbles form on top, flip and cook for about 2 more minutes. Transfer the pancakes to a large plate or platter and let them cool.
  4. Once they have cooled, let your child spread blueberry jam on a pancake and place another one on top, making a sandwich.

Set the Mood

Pick an area of your home to serve as the “teahouse”. Before entering the tearoom, you and your child should give a bow, remove your shoes and wash your hands.

To help get into the proper mindset, ask your little one to shake out the excess energy, close his/her eyes, and turn on the imagination. When s/he opens his/her eyes, the imagination should take over and turn your room into a tearoom.

Prepare the Tea

Take a cloth and start by cleaning the equipment. Scoop the green-tea powder into  the bowl and add hot water. Use the whisk to create a light foam on the top of the tea.

Pouring the Tea

Bow to each other, then pour the tea into your child’s bowl. Your child should then bow to the next guest or back to you, take a few sips, wipe the rim, and pass the bowl to the next guest while bowing.

This process repeats until everyone has tasted the tea. The host then cleans the bowl and the guests pass around and admire the clean bowl before it is returned to where it is stored.

Ending the Ceremony

As you leave your tearoom, bow to each other again to symbolize the end of the ceremony.

Write Your Own Haiku

Supplies: Paper, a pencil, and decorating materials (colored pencils, markers, stickers, etc)


First Line: 5 syllables

Second Line: 7 syllables

Third  Line: 5 syllables

Help your child write his/her very own haiku! Using the book as a reference, let your child pick a topic to write a poem about and figure out how to convey his/her message in just 17 syllables. Your child can also decorate the poem for added fun!