Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Review - Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius
by Barbara Cooney
Date: 1981
Publisher: Puffin Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

A beloved classic—written by a beloved Caldecott winner—is lovelier than ever!

Barbara Cooney's story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. Miss Rumphius received the American Book Award in the year of publication.

To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of two-time Caldecott winner Barbara Cooney's best-loved book, the illustrations have been reoriginated, going back to the original art to ensure state-of-the-art reproduction of Cooney's exquisite artwork. The art for Miss Rumphius has a permanent home in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Here's another 1980s picture book that I somehow missed when I was a kid. I hadn't heard of Miss Rumphius before, but the cover was intriguing.

This is a gentle little story about a girl who grows up with the aim of doing three things: go to faraway places, live beside the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful. The illustrations clearly show the progression of time, probably from the Victorian era to the "present" day (keep in mind that this was published in 1981). It's refreshing to see a female character who doesn't necessarily want to get married and have babies (which is what would have been expected of a woman at that time). Miss Rumphius lives a pretty modern life, travelling solo and seeing the wonders of the world (and making friends along the way). When she finally retires and gets her place by the sea, there's only one thing left to do: make the world more beautiful. What she does is simple, but it perfectly fulfills her original goal.

The pictures are really lovely here. There's plenty to look at. As I said before, the illustrations really help move the story along. Some of my favourites were Miss Rumphius working in the library, the results of her beautification project, and when she's telling her story to the next generation in a room full of reminders of her life.

This is a strong picture book. It has quite a bit of text, but it would probably still be a manageable bedtime read.

Premise: 5/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4.17 out of 5

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