Celebrate Mother’s Day with a memorable experience appealing to all generations. Read aloud “Miss Rumphius” and follow her lead to “make the world more beautiful.” Scatter perennial wildflower seeds in the garden and neighborhood with your family, just like Miss Rumphius did.
Every year you’ll all be reminded of Mother's Day and Miss Rumphius when the seeds come into bloom.
Keep scrolling and you’ll see why this 1982 award wining classic by Barbara Cooney is a great gift for mothers and grandmothers too; not just kindergarten – 3rd graders. Julie was so inspired by “Miss Rumphius” she bought the book long before ever having children of her own.
Set in Victorian times, Alice Rumphius spends her life fulfilling three things she told her grandfather she would do:
Travel to “faraway places”
”Live beside the sea”
“Make the world more beautiful”
The story follows young Alice on adventures around the world until she eventually retires to a city by the sea. A grey haired Miss Rumphius satisfies her third and final ambition by scattering Lupine flower seeds wherever she walks. This charming story comes full circle with the elder Miss Rumphius, known as the “Lupine Lady,” reminding the local children to think of how they too can “make the world more beautiful.”
Read and Explore
- Find the soft grey blanket in the illustration of Miss Rumphius in bed. Barbara Cooney, the author and illustrator, purchased this very blanket on one of her own real life adventures in Kashmir.
- Barbara Cooney (1917-2000) wrote 110 children’s books and won the American Book Award for "Miss Rumphius."
- Like Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney gardened, traveled the world and lived by the sea in a Maine coastal town where Lupine flowers are abundant.
- There are over 200 species of Lupines that come in all colors.
- Many varieties of Lupines are "perennials" and bloom on their own year after year.
- Lupines attract Hummingbirds and people like them too!
Ask your child:
- What are the 3 things Alice told her grandfather she would do?(1.Travel to faraway places 2.Live by the sea 3.Make the world more beautiful)
When Alice was a little girl she lived by the sea. ”From the front stoop she could see the wharves and the bristling masts of tall ships.”
- What is a front stoop ? (A porch with steps in front of a house.)
- What are wharves? (Wharves is plural for wharf. A wharf is like a floating parking lot for boats, where the land and water meet. When a boat is “tied up” to a wharf, it doesn’t float away when you climb on and off.
Alice’s grandfather was an artist making “figureheads for the prows of ships.”
- What is a figurehead? (Old fashioned sailing ships were decorated with a wooden carving, or figurehead, that was placed on the very front, or "prow", of the boat for good luck.
- If you had a sailboat, who would you like the figurehead to be? A person you know or a popular character? (open ended)
- In the winter Alice liked to visit the conservatory. What is a conservatory? ( It’s a warm building made of glass, or a greenhouse, where plants can grow year round.
- Miss Rumphius visited a tropical island “where people kept cockatoos and monkeys as pets.” What is a cockatoo? (A bird…a kind of parrot)
- Miss Rumphius “scattered”, “flung” and “tossed” lupine seeds everywhere. What is another word that you could use? (throw, toss, sprinkle, spread…)
- What could you do to make the world more beautiful? (open ended)
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Julie E. Janson & Caryl Frankenberger, Ed. M.