Cooney, Barbara (author).
Nov. 1982. 32p. illus. Viking, hardcover, $13.95 (0670479586). Ages 4-8.
REVIEW. First published March 7, 2011 (Akibird).
As a winner of the American Book Award and New York Times’ Best Book of the Year, Miss Rumphius is the beautiful tale of Alice, who longs to be like her grandfather by traveling the world and growing old by the sea. However, her grandfather encourages her to accomplish a third task: make the world more beautiful. Exemplifying her trademark style using acrylics and colored pencils, Cooney’s illustrations breathtakingly capture diverse faces from Alice’s journeys as well as flowing seascapes and rolling hills of flowering lupines, creating a welcoming story of growing old. Cooney’s whimsical spirit plays on the imagery in her narrative and builds a composition that draws the reader into the artist’s eye for detail—a wisp of a young girl’s hair flowing in the wind, the curve of a cat’s tail waving contently, and the ornate curls of a figurehead standing ready for the prow of a ship. Reminiscent of the warmth in cup of tea, the thoughtfulness in a soulful jazz tune, or the delight in a smile from a small child, Miss Rumphius is timeless, spreading happiness into the lives of all its readers. As told by Alice’s great-niece, the generational tale gently urges young and old alike to make their own contributions to the world.