Friday, July 22, 2011

Golden Oldies Friday ~ Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Welcome to Golden Oldies Friday! Each Friday I choose one book from my collection of vintage children's books to share with you.

Today, I chose a book that is one of my all-time favorite children's book. Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney, is a beautiful story about living life to the fullest and leaving the world a better place when you leave. This is a picutre of my well-worn and well-loved copy of "Miss Rumphius".

About The Author
Barbara Cooney was born in 1917 and became a prolific children's book illustrator. In the later part of her career, Ms. Cooney focused on writing and illustrating more books of her own. Miss Rumphius, for which the author won both the American Book Award and a New York Times citation in 1982, was inspired by the true story of a woman who planted lupines to make the world a more beautiful place.

Texas Bluebonnets ~ A species of lupine
I discovered this book in the mid-1980s when I was an elementary school librarian in Pasadena, Texas. This book was in the biography section of the library because it is based on a true story.  I was attracted to this book because the Texas Bluebonnet is the state flower. Each spring I would read the children "Miss Rumphius" and we would talk about the beautiful blue flowers.
I also liked this book because Miss Rumphius just happened to work as a librarian and she loved books. This is truly the best "librarian story" that I have ever read.

The Lupine Lady
The story begins with a little girl telling the story of her great-aunt, Miss Alice Rumphius. Alice lived in a big house near the sea when she was a child. Alice would often sit on her grandfather's knee and listen to stories of faraway places. She also loved to watch him paint pictures of the sea. One day, her grandfather told her, "You must do something to make the world more beautiful". Alice agreed but she had no idea what she could do.
When she grew older, Miss Rumphius worked as a librarian in a large public library. She loved to read books about far-away places. She eventually traveled the world and experienced many different adventures.

On one of her adventures, she hurt her back while getting off of a camel. She decided it was time to go back home and take it easy. She found a little house near the sea that was almost perfect...but she remembered that she promised her grandfather to make the world more beautiful. She planted some lupines in her yard and the next spring her yard was full of beautiful blooming flowers.
All the next summer, Miss Rumphius ordered more lupine seeds and walked around spreading the seeds everywhere she went. The next spring there were lupines everywhere. She was known as the "Lupine Lady" and continued to spread seeds until she was very old.

The end of the book shows Miss Rumphius as a very old lady. She is sitting among her great-nieces and great-nephews. She is telling them that there is one thing that they MUST remember....Do somthing to make the world more beautiful.

Here is a video that I made a couple of years ago when the bluebonnets were in full bloom.

Please share your thoughts in the Comments Section below.
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