Miss Rumphius

Strange how, as we grow older, nostalgia becomes more and more powerful? (I know, I know, says the 25-year-old). Today, a teacher asked me if we had 3 books: Miss Rumphius, Clementine, and Koa’s Beans. The only one in my library was Miss Rumphius, so I pulled it out and nearly cried. This is one of the oldest books I remember reading, way back in grade 2. Mrs Kennedy read it to us when the lupine flowers started blooming.

The book is the story of Alice Rumphius, as told by her unnamed great-niece. It covers her life: from a young child, sitting on her grandfather’s knee, to a very old woman.
When she is young, she tells her grandfather that she wants to do two things in life: see the world, and live in a house by the sea.
“But there is a third thing you must do,” he tells her. “Find a way to make the world more beautiful.”
Alice goes through her life in brief flashes: first as a librarian (Hey!), then as an adventurer overseas. When she hurts her back getting off a camel, she decides that it’s time for her to buy that house by the sea.
But what about her third promise: to make the world more beautiful?
While sick in bed, the answer comes to her in the form of her flowers, sprouting outside her window. She will sow lupines all over the land, and help make it more beautiful that way! And so she becomes known as the Lupine Lady.
If I were ever going to tell someone that a book was going to determine my life’s path, this might well be it – so far I’ve gone to great lengths to make Alice Rumphius’ life my own. And I didn’t even know it until I re-read this story for a teacher!
The artwork is done in acrylic, very rich and conveying a sense of decorum old-world discovery. I love looking at the pictures of her life: the Victorian clothes, the safari outfit, the way she interacts with island natives. Things that don’t hold the same wonder and charm now, with so much commercialism. Now I’m nostalgic for nostalgia!
I think what I love most about this story is that it does feel a lot like my own. I come from a coastal town with a large ship-building history; a lot of it is still evident. The hills leading up from the sea always made me transpose her American city on my Canadian one. The same way the hills full of lupines were the same ones I would see in my town. It doesn’t help that I’ve recently become an expatriated Canadian – until this moment I’d forgotten about that. But it makes it more real, and closer to home.
This is one of those oft-forgotten classics. If you’ve never read Miss Rumphius, go pick it up and give it a try!
Suggested ages: 6-9

This Day, We are Masters

This is less about children’s media, and more about celebrating personal accomplishments! May 24th was Graduation Day for myself and my classmates as we received those wonderful, beautiful, and expensive pieces of paper that allow us to practice our chosen trade. Congratulations to all my beautiful friends, and thanks to all those who helped support us through the last 2 years!

Officially a Master!

Book Covers

I’ve mentioned before about how, at the book store I worked at, you could see the immediate difference between 9-12 books, and the teen books. Not because they were in different sections, but because the covers would change from interesting and colour to black/white/grey colours. There might have been a splash of dark red from the Scorpio cover, or blue from Beka Cooper, but all the covers are dark. Marketing towards natural teen angst, I guess.

I wonder if publishers ever realize how much they are, potentially, pushing a market away? I know when I was in my teens, I skipped straight from 9-12 books to adult novels, because the teen books were too depressing, melodramatic, and boring. Or, at least that was my opinion at the time. There were exceptions.

Cover trends vary from year to year, and can be mapped. I know they have been; 2 years ago the “it” colour was blue. Before it was black. Can you think why? (Hint: Twilight, and Mockingjay) Now we’re back to the dominant bleak cover scheme, courtesy of the popularity of dystopian stories and paranormal (re: undead) romances.

I came across a great article from Stacked! talking about covers, and this is just one in a series; I recommend it. What she has to say is quite insightful, and I agree with a lot of it. Primarily a point made at the beginning though: all these covers look alike. How does this help us get to the story the author wrote? How does this help distinguish it? They might be pretty, but how well they sell is not something I can answer.

So head over to http://www.stackedbooks.org/2012/04/cover-trends-female-body.html for a more in-depth analysis of book covers. It will make you think, the next time you go to a book store or library and peruse the covers.

Call for Suggestions

Hello faithful readers! This have been quiet around here recently (a whole week without my wonderful witticisms! The horror! The alliteration!), and there’s a reason for that. It’s called school. My last semester, in fact! Less then four more months and I will be free to start living that wonderful life as a “grown up”. Or something like that. Quite exciting, what?

Realizing, as I did in the midst of my haze of panic, that I was due for another post, I hurried to my overstuffed closet to see if I could find any books suitable for reviewing. And I did, but. I also realized that it, like most of the books I have reviewed here, falls into the fantasy genre, which is where I do most of my reading. Fair enough, if you’ve ever glanced at the 9-12 section of your local bookstore, you’ll notice it’s 99% fantasy in some fashion. But there are other books out there; books that I’ve never ever thought to read. Something outside of the fantasy umbrella.

So, if I may, I would love to pick your brains.

What books did you enjoy growing up? What books do/did your children enjoy? I don’t care if they’re picture books, learning to read, novels, YA books. I just want to hear about them. As few or as many as you want to suggest.

(And we just won’t mention how crazy I am to be gathering new books to read at the beginning of a semester. It’s our secret!)


Welcome to Dear As Salt

Who am I?

My name is Whitney Spencer, and I am an MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Studies) student at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. This blog started as a project for one of my classes; more specifically, a class on children’s services and literature. After the completion of the assignment in December 2011, I decided to keep going, mostly at the behest of my sister who enjoys reading my posts in between studying for exams.


Can I make a request?

Of course! I welcome suggestions. If you have a book your son/daughter, or you yourself, enjoyed, I would love to hear about it.

If you want to contact me, please email me at w.spencer@dal.ca, or just comment below.



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