Throughout her childhood, the lead character of what would later become the childrens books called “Miss Rumphius” spent her days listening to the grand tales of her grandfather’s life at sea. It is then that she makes the conscious decision to become a world traveler herself. Further, when she is old she will find a home in which she may spend the remainder of her days by the sea. While her grandfather agrees that her idea is a good one he also cautions her that she must figure out some way in which she might make the world more beautiful as well.
In ways that the author Barbara Cooney describes as autobiographical, Miss Rumphius crafts her life in ways that is not typical for anyone, especially for a woman. Instead of the expected – marriage and parenthood – she chooses the unexpected life of traveling the globe and fully experiencing life, cultures and environments. Though written from the perspective of her niece readers are offered a wonderful view into the main character’s life in these wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated picture books.
After settling down and living by the sea Miss Rumphius finds that the most difficult of her goals to achieve is that of making the world more beautiful. The goal is finally met quite by accident when she sees the result of accidentally spread lupine flower seeds. It is then that she decides to make the world more beautiful by spreading lupine seeds everywhere she goes for the rest of her days.