It was a beautiful, sunshiny, October morning, and everybody had a Saturday chore to do. Everyone except Annie. She was too short to help Jennifer clean the tub, too young to help Mother rinse the breakfast dishes, too little to help Dallin bring in the garbage cans.
Annie wanted to help too. Sadly she kicked a crackly red leaf off the porch just as Daddy came through the gate.
“You’re just who I was looking for,” he said, picking up the lawn rake and taking Annie’s hand. “I’m trying to find the Leaf Queen, and you’re just the right size to help me.”
They walked through the gate into the backyard, a wonderland of red, gold, brown, and purple leaves. Daddy showed Annie how to use the rake to make small piles of leaves.
“What does the Leaf Queen look like?” Annie asked.
“Oh, you’ll know her when you see her,” Daddy said.
Annie raked and cleared, pulled and piled. She peeked and poked and searched and searched, but there was no Leaf Queen to be seen. Before long, the lawn was green again, except where the leaves were heaped together in one high pile.
“Maybe we accidentally raked the Leaf Queen into the pile,” said Daddy, gathering Annie up into his arms. “You’d better look.” And with that he tossed her gently into the middle of a big, soft mountain of leaves.
Annie squealed and tumbled, scattering leaves all around. Then she stood up and laughed, “There’s nobody in here but me!”
“Who said that?” Daddy turned and stared. There stood Annie, colorful autumn leaves sticking to her from her hair to her toes, like the branches of the maple tree. “Why, if it isn’t the Leaf Queen herself!”
“I’m the Leaf Queen!” She giggled amid a flutter of leaves.
“And,” said Daddy, lifting her out of the leaves with a crunchy hug, “you’re a pretty good helper too.”