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
Ox-Cart Man
The Story of Holly and Ivy
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story (Picture Puffin Books)
Island Boy (Picture Puffins)
Letting Swift River Go
Hattie and the Wild Waves
Eleanor (Picture Puffins)
Chanticleer and the Fox

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