Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
I’ve always loved children’s literature. I never grew out of it. There is something irresistible about the way the illustrations, the stories, and the lessons are weaved together, transporting us into a world that feels safe and often magical. I came across Miss Rumphius in the early 90s. My Aunt Ellie gave it to my daughter, Chloe, as a birthday gift. Chloe was a toddler at the time, but at bedtime, she requested it often. Although she may not have understood all the words, the illustrations and the joy I felt reading it to her must have been contagious.
Miss Rumphius is the story of a little girl named Alice who wanted to do three things: travel the world, live by the sea, and finally, as her grandfather instructed, “You must make the world more beautiful.” As a little girl, Alice was not sure how she would make the world more beautiful. As she grew older and had the benefit of many adventures, it came to her. Not only is this a lovely, engaging story, but the illustrations are beautiful. As Chloe learned to read, this remained one of her favorite books.
Over the years I have bought countless copies of this book to give to expectant mothers or for a child’s birthday. I can’t think of a more important lesson than to teach our children to leave the world more beautiful than they found it. This could mean cultivating amazing gardens or cultivating wonderful relationships. I’m sure there are endless ways to this, but the point is to open a child’s mind to the possibilities. I’m challenging myself to find ways to leave a beautiful legacy. I invite you to do the same. And if you go into a book store, give yourself a treat. Take five minutes to sit, read, and really take in what this book is offering: a love of adventure, a desire to connect with people and nature and a commitment to making your little piece of the world a better place. — Carol Campos