Miss Rumphius

By Barbara Cooney,

Book cover of Miss Rumphius

Book description

Alice made a promise to make the world a more beautiful place, then a seed of an idea is planted and blossoms into a beautiful plan.  This beloved classic and celebration of nature—written by a beloved Caldecott winner—is lovelier than ever!

Barbara Cooney's story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Miss Rumphius as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

When I was a school librarian, I shared this fiction picture book every year and then we planted lupines. It’s the story of a woman who knew what she wanted to do and she did it. One of her goals was the make the world more beautiful and she did it by scattering seeds everywhere she went.

If you can read this book and not want to make the world more beautiful, I will be very surprised!

From Debbie's list on women who wouldn’t give up.

I have absolutely loved this beautiful story since I first read it to my children nearly 40 years ago! As someone who also wanted to see the world and then settle down, like Alice in the story, I knew that I also “must do something to make the world more beautiful.” And, like Alice, who finally figures out what that could be when she is an older woman, my epiphany came once my children were grown and gone. Sharing a love of nature with Miss Rumphius, I credit her with being part of the inspiration which spurs me…

Some of the happiest times of my life have been spent on Prince Edward Island, where lupines grow wild in the ditches. Maybe that’s what first attracted me to this story about Alice Rumphius, who, after fulfilling her lifelong dream of travelling the world, then settling in a house by the sea, turns her attention to one more task: making the world more beautiful. She does this by wandering the Maine coastline, scattering lupine seeds wherever she goes. 

This is activism of a different sort—not an effort to solve a problem, but simply a desire to spread some beauty in…

From Laura's list on gardening as community building.

We will end our list with one of our mother’s favorite books, Miss Rumphius: A book that has inspired her so much that every spring she will spread lupine seeds around the house saying “I am just like Miss Rumphius!”

The story begins when Miss Rumphius was just a child. Called Alice back then, Alice shares with her grandfather that just like him, she will travel to faraway places and one day live by the sea. But her grandfather tells her that she is missing something: "You must do something to make the world more beautiful,” her grandfather tells…

From Caroline's list on promoting social emotional learning.

This is my favorite children’s book of all time. Miss Alice Rumphius is taught by her loving grandfather that there are 3 things she must do with her life: She must travel the world, live in a place by the sea, and finally do something to make the world a more beautiful place. This book teaches children that a life well lived is a life that contributes something beautiful to humanity and this is something we can choose to prioritize in our lives. 

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