Going to make this snappy tonight. We are in Phoenix, Arizona for the 50 and Over Senior Men’s Baseball World Series. Arrived this afternoon in time for my Prince to practice with his team, based out of California. Now we are settled into the house where we will be staying this week and about ready for bed. The connectivity here is spotty and my laptop mouse is acting very touchy so this post may be peppered with typos and other craziness. But you probably have come to expect that from me!
Want to take just a sec to tell you about the graphic above. This is my granddaughter Lucia at daycare. Baby girl has really struggled getting adjusted to going to day care a few hours several times a week. It has broken Lauren’s heart to take her. But Lauren works from home as a medical research librarian and really needs to be able to focus on her job.
Anyway, Lucia was having to be held a whole lot by the caregivers at La Pettit. Lauren had the bright idea to create a photo book with pics of Francisco, Lauren and baby Lucia to hopefully entertain little bit. And it worked! My clever daughter!!! Notice, they have Lucia kind of off in a space all by herself. She is laying on a pallet under the counter but she isn’t crying! She loves books – especially those where her family are the main characters.
We are still talking Caldecott Award winning books today. You can read about the history of the Caldecott in my post from Day 14, here. I am especially fond of these awards because they are given for outstanding illustration. Today’s book was one of my very favorites as a child.
The Little House: Her Story, written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton, won the Caldecott Award in 1943. I assure you, I was nothing more than a gleam in my parents’ eyes in ’43. And wasn’t born for 15 years to come. But I remember this book from my childhood and from seeing it read by Captain Kangaroo on TV.
The book begins like all good fairy tales, with “Once upon a time…” and tells the tale of a quaint little cottage in the country that has been passed down from generation to generation.
I think I longed to live in the little house, too. It looked like such a lovely place to live. And the house almost appeared to be looking out at the world and smiling.
Unlike the first Caldecott book Animals in the Bible, the illustrations in this winning title are bright and colorful. At least at first.
The photos I tried to snap from the copy of the book I borrowed from the library don’t do Burton’s sweet illustrations justice. Can you tell what is happening in the picture, though? Progress. Other little houses are going up around her.
Neighborhoods spring up. Then shops and stores. And the color palette begins to darken as the sunlight and blue sky above little house become obscured.
About this point in the story, my little girl heart felt like it was breaking. Right along with little house’s heart. Look, she isn’t smiling any more. She is suffocating and being strangled out by the tenements growing up around her like weeds. The people look hurried and harried. Horse and buggy have been replaced by trucks and cars and trolleys. The circular road gives me the impression of a merry-go-round without end. Circling endlessly.
Thank goodness, the story doesn’t end there. I don’t want to give away all of the little details that make this story memorable. But here’s a peek.
Reminds me of an episode of “Fixer-Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines. I have just recently jumped on the “Fixer-Upper” band wagon so I don’t know if it was a new show or a rerun. But a young couple inherited a home from family that had been uninhabited for several years. They wound up moving it to a new location where the house and the couple could smile and live happily-ever-after. Hint, hint…that is a lot like the ending of The Little House.
I wanted to know a little bit about Virginia Lee Burton so “Googled” her and found this website sponsored by Houghton-Mifflin books. Turns out Virginia and I are homegirls. Comadres, if you will, both from Massachusetts. Her father was the dean of MIT and my father taught there for a short time. Why, we’re practically twins!
Ms. Burton explained that her process for creating picture books was somewhat backward. She drew all of the illustrations first and then put the words to the story. Maybe I need to try that technique since I am not getting my first children’s book written very quickly the traditional way.
I wish I had taken the time to photograph these illustrations with more care. But since I didn’t…I was packing for our trip and doing laundry and cleaning house…you will need to check them out for yourself. I invite you to find a copy of The Little House: Her Story at a library or bookstore and share it with someone you love. Or buy a copy here. A 70th anniversary edition complete with CD. I am going to put it on my Christmas wish list so I can have my own copy to share with Cady and Lucia.
My baseball-playing Prince is asleep beside me. He has a double-header tomorrow so it will be quite the busy day. I better get to bed, too. Cheering can be almost as exhausting as playing ball.
Enjoy a restful Sunday.
Hugs and kisses,