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148 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answers THAT question from a child
Many children ask, in various ways, the meaning of life. And, as adults, we stutter and try to cough out some semblance of a meaningful answer that the child will understand. When my daughter was three, she literally asked, "Why are we here?" I had no idea how to answer.
Almost on cue, we read this book a week later, and it answered the question perfectly. This...
Published on July 30, 2003 by Jl Metcalf

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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! But Illustrations washed out
This book is a classic, and the illustrations are magical. I was disappointed when I received my latest copy--the pictures are all washed out, as if they've been reproduced with a cheaper process or something. I suggest not buying a new copy--try to find an old one with the richness of the original illustrations.
Published on October 12, 2008 by NYMusicLover


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148 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answers THAT question from a child, July 30, 2003
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Paperback)
Many children ask, in various ways, the meaning of life. And, as adults, we stutter and try to cough out some semblance of a meaningful answer that the child will understand. When my daughter was three, she literally asked, "Why are we here?" I had no idea how to answer.
Almost on cue, we read this book a week later, and it answered the question perfectly. This is the story of a woman named Miss Rumphuis. As a child, she sat on her grandfather's knee and posed the very question as my daughter. His answer was one of the most simple, beautiful, and meaningful that I've ever read. I can't imagine anyone in this world arguing against it, no matter what religion (or non-religion), political persuasion, or culture.
The answer provides the impetus as to how Miss Rumphuis led the rest of her life. It seems as if nearly every reviewer has already given the entire plot, so it's no surprise that her grandfather's answer to why we are here is to simply make the world a more beautiful place. When my daughter heard that, her reply was, "Mommy, you've already made the world a more beautiful place." When I asked how, she replied, "By having me!" I couldn't begin to argue against such wisdom from one of God's small miracles.
This book may appear to be nothing more than a lovely illustrated child's book containing a heartfelt tale. Without a doubt, the illustrations are rich; Ms. Cooney is an extremely talented woman. However, I also believe its message (which is never, ever preachy) is extremely powerful. As such, it is my favorite children's book, and I think every child (and adult) on this earth should read it.
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133 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that will stay in your heart forever., September 2, 2001
By 
slomamma (San Luis Obispo, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Paperback)
This is one of those rare picture books that is so beautiful and so wise that you ought to read it even if you donŐt have children. But if you have a child to share it with, do so immediately, and consider yourself privileged.
In this book, you watch a little girl named Alice grow into an old, old woman, a retired librarian, named Miss Rumphius. Her life is filled with exciting adventures, but as she grows older, none of it feels like enough to her. She keeps recalling some advice her grandfather gave her when she was a child. He told her that in order to live a good life, she had to "do something to make the world more beautiful." But even as an old woman, she canŐt figure out what to do. Finally, realizing the joy sheŐs always gotten from flowers, especially lupines, she decides to share that joy with others by scattering lupine seeds everywhere she goes. She completely transforms the rocky landscape around her home. In the end, she tells her story to her young niece, who wonders how SHE will make the world more beautiful. And so the cycle continues.
My daughter, who is six, has talked about this book several times, and told me she hasnŐt yet figured out how she is going to make the world more beautiful. But the fact that she is thinking about it at such a young age makes me proud, and very happy to have found this lovely book to share with her.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miss Rumphius, July 19, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Hardcover)
The narrator's great aunt, Alice Rumphius, wanted to travel the world and do the one thing her grandfather told her she must do. He told her she must do something to make the world more beautiful. Miss Rumphius travels the world and comes back to live by the sea where the story began. She discovered her way of making the world more beautiful was scattering flower seeds so everyone could enjoy the beauty of the colorful flowers. The story ends with Miss Rumphius telling her great-neice that she must do something to make the world more beautiful.
Teacher Notes: This book would be excellent to read if you were doing a unit on plants or the earth. Even though this book is fiction, realistic things happen like the wind and birds scattering flower seeds. Kindergarten and first grade would enjoy having this book read aloud to them. Second and third graders could read it on their own.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every child, teacher, and librarian should own this book!, March 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Hardcover)
This beautiful book is also a biography of the author's great Aunt Alice Rumphius, who when she was a little girl, told her grandfather that she wanted to live by the sea, and visit foreign lands. Her grandfather also encouraged her to do someting to make the world more beautiful. That she did, by planting wildflowers year after year. In the end of the story the author was told by her great aunt to make the world more beautiful, but she still doesn't know how. I think that Barbara Cooney made the world more beautiful by writing this book. I would like to buy one as a present, and I hope this never goes out of print.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book about an inwardly strong woman, January 24, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Paperback)
This book is a wonderful story about a woman who set a
course for her life and followed it. She told her grandfather
that she wanted to be like him when she grew up, and travel
and live by the sea. He let her know that there was more to
life than that and that she must also make that world a more
beautiful place. Follow Miss Rumphius as she fills her lifes
dreams and the wonderful way she makes life more beautiful
for all of us. Barabara Cooney also helps to make the world
a little gentler with this wonderful story you will want to
share with your daughter.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make the World More Beautiful....., June 4, 2002
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Paperback)
When Alice was a little girl she lived in a village by the sea, and in the evenings would sit on her grandfather's knee and listen to his stories of faraway places. It was then that she decided that when she grew up she too would travel the world, and then, when she grew old, come back home and live in a house by the sea. Her wise grandfather listened to her dreams and then made her promise to do one more thing. "You must do something to make the world more beautiful." Little Alice grew up; she was called Miss Rumphius now, and set out on her worldwide adventure. She visited tropical islands and beaches, climbed mountains, walked through jungles, and across deserts, making friends wherever she went. And when she was finished traveling, she went home to her house by the sea. But there was still one more thing Miss Rumphius had to do...fulfill the promise she made to her grandfather, and when she saw lupine flowers blooming outside her window, she knew just what she would do to make the world a more beautiful place..... Award winning author and illustrator, Barbara Cooney, has written a sweet and simple story, with a lovely message that reminds us all to take a little extra time and make the world a better place in which to live. Her gentle, eloquent text is enhanced by her beautiful and engaging illustrations that capture the imagination, and send it soaring. Perfect for youngsters 4-8, Miss Rumphius is a magical, heartwarming treasure, and a picture book to share with family and friends now, and future generations in the years to come.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Wonderful, May 15, 2002
By 
"lantieri" (East Taunton, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Paperback)
One of the most cherished books in our house! My daughter and I went out and planted lupines in our garden and every spring she delights when they come up. The story is wonderful and the illustrations are awesome. She sits mesmerized while I read to her. It teaches children without "teaching" by giving them a heartwarming story about following your path in life and respecting the people, places and things in your world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miss Rumphius, May 4, 2004
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Paperback)
Miss Rumphius is a very good book. It is about a little girl named Alice who lived in a city by the sea. She told her grandfather that when she grew up she would travel around the world and live in a little house by the sea. Her grandfather said that was all very well but she would also have to do something to make the world more beautiful. When Alice got older she traveled all over the world and saw many different things and did many neat things too. Then she bought a little house by the sea, but she still had not done anything to make the world more beautiful. One spring she was ill. When she looked out her bedroom window she could see the lupines she had planted the summer before. They were so pretty, she wished she could have planted more. When she got better, she went outside and found lupines all over the hill. She knew the wind must have done it. Then she had an idea; she would sprinkle lupine seeds everywhere she went. That was what she would do to make the world more beautiful. And she did.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE IT!, December 7, 2006
By 
M. PHARES (Germantown, OH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Paperback)
I can't say enough about this book. It is so beautifully illustrated... definitely my favorite Barbara Cooney book. The story is so charming. You won't be disappointed!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should own this book, February 4, 2006
This review is from: Miss Rumphius (Paperback)
I think books are the perfect baby gift and this one is always among the selection I give. The pictures are lovely, the message is beautiful.

As a young girl Alice Rumphius is told by her grandfather that she must do three things: 1) Travel the world 2) Live in a house by the sea 3) do something to make the world more beautiful.

While we may not all get a chance to travel the world or to live in a house by the sea, we are all given the opportunity to make the world more beautiful. This is a lovely book with a wonderful message to share.
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Miss Rumphius
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (Paperback - November 6, 1985)
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