Picture Books for Kids: Miss Rumphius

picture books

Classic picture books for kids like Miss Rumphius will always inspire those who read it. Melissa Young from Sweet on Books explains why it’s our recommended book of the week:

What You Need to Know:

• The original “green” story. Some say The Lorax (Classic Seuss) , which I also agree with, but I put Miss Rumphius first.
• Miss Rumphius makes a wonderful read-aloud.
• This story can prompt many a discussion on a wide variety of topics including: environmentalism, aging, travel, family ties and the many positive aspects of feminism.

Summary:

Miss Rumphius is the story of Alice Rumphius and her desire to do three things: live by the sea, go to faraway places and make the world a more beautiful place. This third desire is instilled in young Alice by her wise old grandfather, and is mostly what this special story is about. After Alice listens to her grandfather’s stories of faraway places, Alice tells him she, too, will go to faraway places and she will eventually settle by the sea. Alice’s grandfather intones, that is all well and good, but you must also do a third thing. “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

After an account of Alice’s travel, very appealingly illustrated, the story moves on to depict the charming seaside town Alice eventually settles in. Here Alice will do her Grandfather proud and start making the world more beautiful. After a hard winter, Alice realizes that her lupines (a gorgeous flower of purple, blue and rose) have not only survived but expanded, with a little help from the wind and the birds. Alice has her “aha” moment. She orders large quantities of the very best lupine seeds from the very best seed house. When the seeds arrive, Alice fills her pockets daily and scatters the seeds wherever she goes. Lupines flourish and prosper throughout the whole town, thus making her corner of the world a more beautiful place.

At the end of this story, you realize the narrator is actually Alice’s great niece, Alice. Great Aunt Alice urges her great niece to also find her own way to make the world a more beautiful place. Both the gorgeous language and exquisite illustrations make this book a prize to be won by the lucky reader who gets to enjoy it. Barbara Cooney, it seems, was ahead of her time with this very green story of taking care of our environment.

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