“I am a part of everything that I have read.” ~Theodore Roosevelt
Virginia Lee Burton
Virginia Lee Burton is best remembered as an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books. Her memorable characters, still ‘alive’ in our grown children’s imaginations, make her one of our very favorite children’s book authors.
Burton’s themes take us back to a simpler life. She pays tribute to heroes who persevere through difficulties with goodness and strength of character.
Burton specializes in bringing the inanimate to life with her vibrant and detailed drawings and stories of courage and vulnerability. The beauty of the her stories is that they are simple, yet deep and complicated at the same time.
One biographer wrote, “Virginia Lee Burton believed in trying to give children what they like and want. The popular children’s book author always wrote and illustrated her books in collaboration with her two sons and their friends; if something didn’t appeal to them it would be changed. In this way her books were created and became classics of children’s literature.”
It is true that her books captivate boys. Trains! Trucks! Tractors! Cable cars and Steam Shovels and Diesel Engines and Bulldozers! Every young boy’s dream. But in truth, everyone (girls included) from toddlers to grandparents are drawn into the oftentimes heart-tugging predicaments the subjects find themselves in.
Her use of personification, a highlight of her stories, makes for rich conversation with children. Her winsome animated machines can lead to great fun as we think about machines and why we sometimes compare them to humans (or animals) when we talk about them. Can you tell we like her works?
In all, she wrote and illustrated 7 children’s books:
Now there is a 4-book collection that commemorates Virginia Lee Burton’s most popular classic stories, each featured complete and unabridged. They have been entertaining children, parents, and grandparents for more than sixty years, and I think they will entertain you, too!
Caveat: I have not read Life Story, but it has quite a few references to evolutionary processes as she describes how the earth came into being, and so I share this warning.
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Thanks for reading!