What is your Story?

My favourite story
Do you have a story that you treasure and that expresses who you are? Since I attended my first course in Children's Literature in the 1980's, my favourite story has been Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.
Coincidentally, on reading two of my favourite blogs materfamilias writes and the hostess of the humble bungalow, I was reminded of this story which I used to read every Earth Day.

The story is told by young Alice of her maiden aunt, Miss Rumphius. When Miss Rumphius was young Alice, she was told by her grandfather, a retired ship's carpenter, to do three things:travel and meet the people of the world, come home and live by the sea and find a way to make the world more beautiful.

When I first read the story, 30 years ago, I felt that it was my own. My grandfather had been a ship's carpenter and although he died when I was young, he had treasures in his workbench drawers that I thought magic. He was from the Shetland Islands but found another island to make his home. Like Miss Rumphius, I worked in a library (from library clerk 1 to teacher-librarian in a French Immersion school). Islands have always been part of my life...my Shetland roots, my island home and my mother-in-law's Bowen Island house. Blue flowers have always been my favourite and now I even have a green cape. I have always felt that sharing stories is a way to make the world more beautiful.

In 2007, Miss Rumphius was chosen as number 1 of Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children. I have used this book many times in my career as an example of making personal connections with literature.

Do you have a children's story that you make a personal connection with?
I may be a wee bit wistful today after looking at Mater's lovely photo.  It was the heron.


  1. Thanks so much for the nod my way -- and yes, I do indeed know Miss Rumphius, having read it to my children many times as they were growing up. I'll have to see if our copy is now on Nola's bookshelves -- if not, I'd say that at 4 1/2, my granddaughter is almost ready for its delights. And it's almost lupin time here -- I love driving up to Qualicum and passing their purple glory painting the roadside. . .

    1. Did you have "Jessie's Island" and "A Morning to Polish and Keep"? Over the years, there has been some great local children's literature that depicts West Coast Canadian life. Julie Lawson, Sheena Lott, Andrea Spaulding and Sheryl MacFarlane were my favourites. I really loved my courses in Canadian Children's Literature! Your Nola will probably enjoy some of these if you have them.

  2. i have never read that book, or even heard of it. It sounds enchanting. My book was, 'The Secret Garden.' I am not like any of the characters but it is full of magic, of the earth, of the land and landscape. The people of Yorkshire and the way I think they are ( in fiction at least). It gave me a magic map.

    Maters heron does indeed make one wistful.

    1. That's interesting! My daughter, who is dyslexic, did not read for pleasure because it was too hard. The two books that her classroom teacher read aloud that she really enjoyed and wanted me to buy were "The Secret Garden" and "The Bridge to Terabithia".


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