Our wide range of life experiences help shape our values.  We may know specifically what they are, or perhaps we just live by them without realizing it.  Our values in their simplest form are our principals about what in life is important.  This children’s book poses two important questions for all of us.  What gives a life meaning?  What will our mark on the world be?


Miss Rumphius

Written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney

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.  Miss Rumphius received the American Book Award in the year of publication, 1982.


Lupine grow behind our house every spring on Bishop’s Peak.



Barbara Cooney

“Of all the books I have done, ‘Miss Rumphius,’ ‘Island Boy,’ and ‘Hattie and the Wild Waves,’ are the closest to my heart. These three are as near as I ever will come to an autobiography”.  Barbara Cooney

Barbara Cooney was a remarkable woman.  She won two Caldecott Awards, illustrated more than 100 books during her career, raised four children, and lived her life unique zest and liveliness.


How the Real Miss Rumphius Decorated Maine with Lupines.
Yes, there really was such a person!

Barbara Cooney’s 1982 picture book was based on the real life of a woman named Hilda Edwards, who actually did spread lupine seeds around Maine’s coast. Called the “Lupine Lady” or “Hilda Lupina” by her friends, Edwards started spreading Lupine seeds after returning from her own world travels and settling in Christmas Cove, in South Bristol.

Lupines are not native to New England.   Hilda Edwards imported seeds from England every summer.  Once there were enough plants established around the region, she could collect the Lupine seeds from plants already growing in Maine.

Maine’s famous wildflowers


Questions for a quiet family discussion…..
Making the World More Beautiful

Miss Rumphius’ grandfather tells her that she must make the world more beautiful.

  1. What does her grandfather do to make the world more beautiful?

  2. What does Miss Rumphius do to make the world more beautiful?

  3. Are their other ways to make the world more beautiful?

  4. Is there a right or wrong way to make the world more beautiful?

  5. Name something that you think is beautiful. What would you do to make it more beautiful?

  6. Does making something more beautiful make it better?

I would love to have you share some of your family’s ideas about how to make our world more beautiful.      Kathy