Virginia Lee Burton’s book, The Little House, won the Caldecott Award in 1943, quick work for a book published only a year before. During a time when children’s books were in full swing, The Little House took hold of the hearts of parents and children and the little red house still finds its way into family bed times.
The Little House lives in the country with apple trees and birds, happy where she is and enjoying the peacefulness. As time passes, more and more she can see new things beginning to slip into the area. A road for horses. Then for trucks. Then more roads. New homes spring up. Bigger homes. Finally she is stuck amidst the city, surrounded by bright lights and noise. Her family moves away and she is all alone until one day a woman sees her and takes her back to the country where the house can live happily ever after.
The illustrations of the house in the country are quaint, soft colors depicting the trees swaying in the breeze and a tiny dog chasing a cat into a tree as children play tag. The changes of time are subtle, but children can see the trees grow and the seasons change. Kids familiar with Burton’s other book, Mike Mulligan the Steam Shovel, might even spot him on one of the pages.
It’s a simple story using words older kids might already be able to read and younger kids can learn. Whether they are being read to or reading the book on their own, children will realize that there really is no place like home – even for a house.