a life that reminds us how beautiful the world is and how valuable we all are

Miss Rumphius is a charming story about a woman who commits as a child to do three things:

1. go to faraway places
2. live beside the sea
3. do something to make the world more beautiful

Not a bad list! 

In the course of life, Miss Rumphius does indeed travel the world; she does eventually settle by the sea; and, to make the world more beautiful, she scatters the seeds of her favourite flower—the Lupine—everywhere she goes around her seaside community.

Aside from being an incredibly pretty book, this is also a book with a lot of work to do! 

There are delightful family connections between Miss Rumphius, her grandfather and her great-niece. There are hints about how having valuable work can revive us and give us strength and the will to go on. 

There’s also a really strong theme of doing good in whichever way you can, and there are reminders that, while the world is beautiful, we can each play a part in keeping it that way. 

I love the way Miss Rumphius takes charge of her life and does interesting things. And I love the value given to different lives:

The grandfather’s quiet immigrant life of risk and hard work

Miss Rumphius’s surprising life of adventure and travel at a time when it was rare for a woman to travel alone

and the great-niece who lives a carefree life of privilege, still retaining an understanding of her own need to contribute.

The story is very much about the passage of time—the scenery changes from a bustling sea-port with tall ships in the bay through to a quaint seaside town with cars on the street. And then there’s the diversity of culture and geography that Miss Rumphius’s travels take us to.


Amazon - Book Depository  (if you're buying it as a gift, it's particularly lovely with a packet of seeds) 

Book Depository has free postage anywhere in the world and great pricing, but Amazon might be cheaper for North American readers.

by Barbara Cooney - Penguin Young Readers, 1985.
ages 4 years to grown-up / picture books + emotional resilience,  s.o.s.e.