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Read more about her work and her life . . . You might be surprised.
As time goes on, you can expect to find on this page a wide-ranging collection of our memories of Barbara Cooney and a close look at her life, her phenomenal career and the body of work she produced over a period of more than half a century. Among her more than 110 books for children were two Caldecott Medal winners, Chanticleer and the Fox (1959 ) and Ox Cart Man (1980), and many people will of course remember her best for her widely acclaimed book, Miss Rumphius, which won the National Book Award in 1983.
Barbara Cooney was an original thinker; I’ll say that for her – her thought process took her “outside of the box” as they say. A good example was the time she discovered she had mice living in her car (a bright blue Subaru she named “the Blue Hornet”).
She’d been noticing certain irregularities in that car lately: shredded bits of an old paper napkin, a woolen glove that looked chewed on, an acorn on a seat, little mouse turds. All the evidence, especially the last item, pretty clearly indicated to her that the Blue Hornet had a mouse issue to be dealt with.
As usual, her first strategic impulse involved me. “Barn,” she said, “would you go take a look in my car? I think a mouse is living in it, and I’m not sure what can be done about him. I don’t know how he got in, but maybe we ought to set a trap.”
So I went out to humor her, knowing the mouse, or mice, most probably had got into the car when it had been kept in the garage during the winter and had had a window left open. It was now spring, the weather improved, and with the Blue Hornet now bopping all around the countryside to my mother’s favorite garden centers, it was very likely that mouse had very literally moved out of town. I couldn’t see any fresh mouse signs – no nest materials, no acorns, no turds . . . anywhere. I looked under the seats, in the glove box, the spare tire well, even under the hood. Nothing. And I told her so. Just the same, she wasn’t so sure.
A few days later, my mother had to go to Boston for a few days, by car. When she came to say goodbye, I asked her how her mice were doing. “Seen any sign of them lately?” I asked. “Wouldn’t want you to get startled behind the wheel doing fifty when one runs over your feet.
“Ohhh, that won’t be a problem now,” she said. “I took care of it.”
“Oh?” I said
“Look,” said my mother. And she leaned back in her seat and pointed down at her feet. “See? Rubber bands.”
And sure enough, she had solved the Blue Hornet’s mouse problem. She had big rubber bands bound around both her pant legs at the ankles. Good old Mom. “That ought to do it,” I told her.