For this Winning Wednesday I will be reviewing The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Published in 1942, this book won the Caldecott Medal and has been beloved by generation after generation.
This book tells the story of a little house out in the country. The family who built her promises that she will live on for generations to come and will always be loved. We see the house through the years, remaining a constant as the world around it subtly becomes more industrialized and less rural. Eventually the house starts wondering what it would be like to live in the big city. Season pass, and the world around her changes bit by bit, growing more and more industrial every day. Then one day a steam shovel (a subtle nod to Burton’s other classic, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel) comes and creates a big city all around the house. As the city grows the house becomes abandoned, and she just sits and watches the world race by. One night the house reflects back on how she wondered what life in the big city would be like, and how she misses living out in the fields. Then one day, the great-great-granddaughter of the man who built the house walks by and recognizes it. She hauls the house back out to the country, and the house is content with its rural life.
This book is absolutely beautiful, with stunning illustrations. We see the slow progression of industrialization as the city grows around the little house, as the house begins to fall a part from neglect. The story line teaches the idea that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The pictures and story combine in such a way that there is ease and flow. It’s not hard to see how this book won the Caldecott, as the words and pictures blend together in a beautiful story. While an older book, it has remained popular for over sixty years, and I don’t see it going out of style any time soon. It is a timeless story, with gorgeous illustrations and a simple yet powerful plot.
– Mary Nobles Hancock