Miss Rumphius

Author and Illustrator:  Barbara Cooney


There once was a little girl named Alice who sat on her grandfather’s knee and listened to his stories of faraway places.  These stories filled her with a longing to travel and see the world, and live beside the sea.

“That is all very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather, “but you must also do something to make the world more beautiful.”

Little Alice grew up to become Miss Rumphius, and keeping the promise she made to herself, she did indeed travel all over the world.  She climbed tall mountains where the snow never melted.  She crossed deserts, went through jungles, and saw lions playing and kangaroos jumping.  Miss Rumphius even rode a camel, but while getting down, she hurt her back.

“What a foolish thing to do,” said Miss Rumphius.  “Well, I have certainly seen faraway places. Maybe it is time to find my place by the sea.”

And that is just what she did.

From the porch of her little house she watched the sun sparkle on the water.  She planted a little garden among the rocks that surrounded her house.  Miss Rumphius was almost perfectly happy.

Then she remembered the words of her grandfather and thought, “There is still one more thing I have to do. I have to make the world more beautiful.” But what?

While lying in bed because of her back injury, Miss Rumphius noticed the lovely flowers blooming outside her bedroom window.  Seeing them brought her such joy and when they appeared in abundance the next spring a wonderful idea came to her!


Sometimes a healing of both body and spirit comes when one makes the world more beautiful. . .

 Mary Byrne Kline

1.  Before she traveled, how did Alice (Miss Rumphius) learn of faraway places?

2.  What did the Bapa Raja mean by, “You will always remain in my heart”?

3.  How did Miss Rumphius accomplish all three of her childhood goals/dreams?

Miss Rumphius Activity Guide




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