The Willful Little Breeze
Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: Thornton Burgess

Thornton Burgess loved nature and liked to write about its beauty. He wrote “Old Mother West Wind” in 1910. The book has many stories about interesting characters, including Peter Rabbit,, Jimmy Skunk, and of course, Old Mother West Wind who is the wind that blows from the west. Below is a passage from the book about one of her children.

Topic(s): Fairy Tales & Fables, Science Fiction / Fantasy. Skill(s): Summary, Character Traits, Story Elements. Genre(s): Prose

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Old Mother West Wind is the wind that blows from the west. Below is a passage about one of her children.


Old Mother West Wind was tired-tired and just a wee bit cross-cross because she was tired. She had had a very busy day. Ever since early morning she had been puffing out the white sails of the ships on the big ocean so that they could go faster; she had kept all the big and little wind mills whirling and whirling to pump water for thirsty folks and grind corn for hungry folks; she had blown away all the smoke from tall chimneys and engines and steamboats. Yes, indeed, Old Mother West Wind had been very, very busy.

Now she was coming across the Green Meadows on her way to her home behind the Purple Hills, and as she came she opened the big bag she carried and called to her children, the Merry Little Breezes, who had been playing hard on the Green Meadows all the long day. One by one they crept into the big bag, for they were tired, too, and ready to go to their home behind the Purple Hills.

Pretty soon all were in the bag but one, a willful little Breeze, who was not quite ready to go home; he wanted to play just a little longer. He danced ahead of Old Mother West Wind. He kissed the sleepy daisies. He shook the nodding buttercups. He set all the little poplar leaves dancing, too, and he wouldn’t come into the big bag. So Old Mother West Wind closed the big bag and slung it over her shoulder. Then she started on towards her home behind the Purple Hills.

When she had gone, the willful little Breeze left behind suddenly felt very lonely-very lonely indeed! The sleepy daisies didn’t want to play. The nodding buttercups were cross. Great round bright Mr. Sun, who had been shining and shining all day long, went to bed and put on his nightcap of golden clouds. Black shadows came creeping, creeping out into the Green Meadows.

The willful little Breeze began to wish that he was safe in Old Mother West Wind’s big bag with all the other Merry Little Breezes.

Comprehension Questions

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