Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Story Books
One Leaf Rides the Wind

One Leaf Rides the Wind

Fall 2002 Story Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Celeste Davidson Mannis
Illustrator: Susan Kathleen Hartung
ISBN: 0-670-03525-4
Paperback Price: $15.99
This is a quiet, subtle and beautiful book. On its simplest level, it is a counting book, the numbers one to ten. On a second level, it conveys both in pictures and in non-intrusive footnotes at the bottom of each text page something of the spirit and contents of a Japanese garden. The listener learns how Bonsai (growing trees in pots or trays) is achieved; how respect for nature is a teaching of Shinto, the native religion of Japan; why pagodas are shaped the way they are, etc. On a third tier, the reader and listener become aware of the rhythm and form of the text: the three-line free-verse narrative on each and every page is an example of haiku, a form of poetry that originated in Japan hundreds of years ago. Each text block has five syllables in its first and third lines, seven in the middle line. An older child may want to try the form; a younger one will simply enjoy the words: "One leaf rides the wind./ Quick as I am, it's quicker!/ Just beyond my grasp." Susan Hartung's illustrations - her small heroine; her sensitivity to the author's words - are little short of perfect. For the right child, a memorable book.
Selma G. Lanes   ©2002 Parents' Choice

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