The Little House
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“Once upon a time there was once a Little House way out in the country. She was once a pretty Little House and she was once strong and well built.” So begins Virginia Lee Burton’s classic The Little House, winner of the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1943. The rosy-pink Little House, on a hill surrounded by apple trees, watches the days go, by from the first apple blossoms in the spring through the winter snows. At all times faintly acutely aware of the city’s distant lights, she starts to notice the city encroaching on her bucolic existence. First a road appears, which brings horseless carriages and then trucks and steamrollers. Before long, more roads, bigger homes, apartment buildings, stores, and garages surround the Little House. Her circle of relatives moves out and she finds herself by myself in the midst of the city, where the artificial lights are so bright that the Little House can no longer see the sun or the moon. She continuously dreams of “the field of daisies and the apple trees dancing in the moonlight.” Children will be saddened to see the lonely, claustrophobic, dilapidated house, but when a woman recognizes her and whisks her back to the country where she belongs, they’ll rejoice. Young readers are much more likely to be drawn in by the whimsical, detailed drawings and the happy ending than by anything Burton might have been implying about the troubling effects of urbanization. (Ages 3 to 6)
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