R is for Rumphius, Miss Rumphius that is. One of my favorite storybooks, Miss Rumphius, written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, tells the story of the life of Alice Rumphius. As a child Alice longs to sail the oceans to visit far off lands. Her grandfather encourages her. Telling her to follow her dreams, to be brave and follow where her heart leads.But, Grandfather adds a caveat of his own. Alice must be sure that she makes her mark on the world, leaving it a better place than she found it.
Years of travel and adventure fill Alice's days, until finally, an old spinster lady, she settles down to live beside the beloved ocean of her childhood. How can she leave the world a better place? What can she do? She ponders this question on her daily walks along the roadways and shorelines, delighting in the beauty of the beaches, the fields. She is particularly enchanted by the lupines that grow wild along the edges of the pathways. There amongst the splashes of color against the grey green background Miss Rumphius finds her answer. Filling her pockets with lupine seeds, she scatters them along the paths as she walks each day through her years by the seaside. In her wake, fields of lupines bloom marking the roads she travels, leaving the earth a better, more beautiful place, than she found.
I read this story to my kids when they were small, I read it to myself more times than I can count. The illustrations are delightful and enhance the story. This book, along with two others written by Cooney, 'Island Boy' and 'Hattie and the Wild Waves' make up a trio of storybooks that I have given to new moms as a baby gift over the years. In my opinion, they make up an instruction manual for raising a child.
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