I want to introduce you to a remarkable woman. She won two Caldecott Awards, illustrated more than 100 books during her career, raised four children, and lived life with unique zest and liveliness.

You may recognize her illustrations in any of the following books, including my own favorite, Miss Rumphius, and one of her Caldecott winners, The Ox-Cart Man.

Barbara Cooney was a gift to the world, and in this special edition podcast, I want to introduce you to the woman behind these magnificent books.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • how this mother of four managed to illustrate over 100 books
  • stories about what it was like growing up with Barbara as a mother (listen in for roosters in the kitchen and mice in the car!)
  • how Barbara made sure her legacy and love for books would continue after her death in 2000

Think you love Miss Rumphius? Just wait till you meet the woman who wrote her onto the page.

You’ll love these books even more after you meet the one and only Barbara Cooney.

Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

5:19Claire Danes reads Miss Rumphius
8:25Knowing beauty, sharing beauty
12:03The Ox-Cart Man – ‘so exquisite’
13:01 Roosters and mice
14:20The Blue Hornet
18:08‘An astoundingly good mother’
19:58A turquoise tunic and hot pink silk pants
21:40‘She opened my eyes to beauty in this world’
22:48 Doing something meaningful – a new library
24:36Barbara Cooney’s legacy lives on …

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Quotes to remember:

“Barbara vowed never to talk down to children, and she achieved that. Her books respect children as full persons with a wide range of emotions and dreams and troubles. ” – Sarah Mackenzie

“I looked at it and said to her … you better think where to put the medal, because it was so exquisite. I thought, Oh my goodness, this is going to blow everything else out of the water. And it did.” – Regina Hayes, Editor at Large, Viking

“She opened my eyes to beauty in this world.” – Barnaby Porter (Barbara’s oldest son)

“Anytime you see a book with Barbara Cooney’s name on the cover, whether that be at your library, a bookstore, a used book shop, or a garage sale, snap it up. You’ll be glad you did. She was a gift to many, and she continues to be a gift to us all through the books on our children’s shelves.” – Sarah Mackenzie

Sarah’s favorite books by Barbara Cooney:

Bonus Episode with Barbara Cooney
Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Easily among my all-time favorites. The story of little Alice, whose grandfather invites her to travel the globe, come home to the salty sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful. Listen to my special edition podcast episode about the author.

More info →
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Roxaboxen

Roxaboxen

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Illustrated by Barbara Cooney (Miss Rumphius), Roxaboxen is a special place where games like playing house magically come to life.

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
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Ox-Cart Man

Ox-Cart Man

FROM SARAH:

This book is amazing in its simplicity and beauty-- both in the text and the pictures. Listen to my Special Edition episode about the illustrator, Barbara Cooney, on the RAR Podcast.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Thus begins a lyrical journey through the days and weeks, the months, and the changing seasons in the life of one New Englander and his family. The oxcart man packs his goods - the wool from his sheep, the shawl his wife made, the mittens his daughter knitted, and the linen they wove.

More info →
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The Story of Holly and Ivy

The Story of Holly and Ivy

Best for all ages. A classic! One to buy for your own shelves.

More info →
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The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story (Picture Puffin Books)

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story (Picture Puffin Books)

**Description from Amazon: This unforgettable tale, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Barbara Cooney, has become a seasonal classic-a touching and joyful story about courage and the power of family.

More info →
Buy from Amazon
Island Boy (Picture Puffins)

Island Boy (Picture Puffins)

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

The acclaimed author of Miss Rumpus recounts the lives of four generations living on a New England coastal island and the importance of family ties.The youngest and quietest of 12 children, Matthias grew closest to Tibbets Island, learning its secrets through the years. And though in later year...

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Emily

Emily

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

From Michael Bedard and two-time Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Barbara Cooney comes a story about American poet Emily Dickinson and the young girl who befriends her.What if your neighbor were the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson?

More info →
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Eleanor (Picture Puffins)

Eleanor (Picture Puffins)

Author:
Series: Episodes, 087
Tag: Episode 87

**Description from Amazon: Though she came from a wealthy and privileged family, Eleanor Roosevelt grew up in a cheerless household that left her lonely and shy. Years passed before Eleanor began to discover in herself the qualities of intelligence, compassion, and strength that made her a remarkable woman. In Eleanor, two-ti...

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Chanticleer and the Fox

Chanticleer and the Fox

FROM THE PUBLISHER

King of the barnyard, Chanticleer struts about all day. When a fox bursts into his domain, dupes him into crowing, and then grabs him in a viselike grip, Chanticleer must do some quick thinking to save himself and his barnyard kingdom.

More info →
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Letting Swift River Go

Letting Swift River Go

**Description from Amazon: Relates Sally Jane's experience of changing times in rural America, as she lives through the drowning of the Swift River towns in western Massachusetts to form the Quabbin Reservoir.

More info →
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Hattie and the Wild Waves

Hattie and the Wild Waves

**Description from Amazon: A young girl from Brooklyn, New York enjoys her summer at the beach where she can paint and listen to the wild waves.

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Emma

Emma

Motivated by a birthday gift, a 72-year-old woman begins to paint.

More info →
Buy from Amazon

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