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Leaf in the Wind is a middle-grades novel. It is a literary fantasy that examines the themes of environmental conservation, learning disabilities, and the healing power of the fine arts.
Along with the novel is a complete set of activities for your classroom which include a pre-reading guide, vocabulary assignments, a journal activity, and a visual arts book project.
“The Champion Tree Project was conceived to preserve the genetic information of the country’s most outstanding trees. This project couldn’t be timelier. In the past month, three state champion trees were attacked: a silver maple, a black ash, and a butternut,” Mr. Wordsmith explained.
“Who would want to hurt a tree, and why?” asked Blake.
“That’s what we need to figure out…”
On the verge of summer vacation, middle school English teacher, Tannory Wordsmith, imparts his final lesson: the process and product of authoring poems grants a form of limited immortality. The lesson is lost on all but his brightest student--Viola Marvelli. Mr. Wordsmith invites Viola to attend a poetry reading to celebrate the opening of a park dedicated to New York State’s champion butternut tree. He gives her a coded message that bespeaks danger.
Fourteen year old Khalil Almustafa Wali has spent several days observing the new park and its notable tree from the balcony of his apartment. Thanks to his unique visual acuity, Khalil notices a mysterious stranger. He attempts to confront the stranger but is harassed by two neighboring bullies.
Meanwhile, Blake Albion, seventh grade misfit and underachiever, follows an emerald-eyed stray cat to the park, just in time to witness the butternut being attacked. Viola, Blake, and Khalil join forces to save the tree from being destroyed and are inadvertently thrust into a battle to defend champion trees across the country.
These three protagonists have more in common than names with literary antecedents, as they discover over the course of an adventure filled summer. Soon after the attack on the butternut is thwarted, the children are sent to Camp Calliope, where the fine arts come to life--literally. Poems spring from the page, metaphors become real, and illustrations fly off their canvases. William Blake’s Tyger can be found stalking the woods and Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwock frightens the campers who stray too far into the forest.
While immersed in the fine arts at camp, the three children unearth the stranger’s sinister plan and learn that it has nasty ramifications for champion trees around the world. Can the Champion Tree Project foil the stranger’s plan in time?