Today is National Plant a Flower Day. Of course the first picture book that comes to mind is the timeless Miss Rumphius.
This book tells the story of Alice Rumphius who had only three goals in life: to travel the world, to live in a house by the sea, and to do something to make the world more beautiful. Barbara Cooney writes and illustrates this masterpiece. Through words and pictures she tells the story of the real Miss Rumphius, Alice Rumphius the Lupine Lady, who travels and spreads lupine seeds everywhere she goes. Because of her, the coast of Maine is now fragrant with lupines. Miss Rumphius won the American Book Award in 1985, and the artwork for this book is currently at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Maine. Barbara Cooney has also won the Caldecott Award twice for her work Chanticleer and the Fox (1959) and The Ox Cart Man (1980).
Barbara Cooney was quoted in 1959, from her acceptance speech for the Caldecott Medal, “I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting. It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand. ‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.’ So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to – or draw down to- children.”
Of Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney said, “Miss Rumphius has been, perhaps, the closest to my heart. There are, of course, many dissimilarities between me and Alice Rumphius, but, as I worked, she gradually seemed to become my alter ego. Perhaps she had been that right from the start.”
You can read more about Barbara Cooney here,