Virginia Lee Burton, an illustrator of children's books
known primarily for bringing inanimate objects to life
and for her vivid scratchboard drawings, was born
on August 30, 1909 in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.
Burton first studied art at the California School
of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and later returned
to the East Coast and attended the Boston Museum School.
An early job as an artist was as sketcher for the music,
dance, and theater sections of the Boston Transcript.
She subsequently settled in Folly Cove, Gloucester,
Massachusetts with her family.
Burton illustrated and wrote many books,
the most beloved by children being Choo Choo:
The Story of a Little Engine Who Ran Away (1937),
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1939), Calico
the Wonder Horse (1941), and The Little House (1942).
"I literally draw my books first and write down
the text after ... I pin the sketched pages in sequence
on the walls of my studio so I can see the books
as a whole. Then I make a rough dummy and then the
final drawings, and at last when I can put it off no longer,
I type out the text and paste it in the dummy."
Burton won the Caldecott Medal in 1943 for
The Little House, the story of a house that is
swallowed up by a growing city but
is rescued in the end by being moved to the country.
Virginia Lee Burton died in 1968.
Virginia Lee Burton's books are notable for their
swirling, stylized illustrations and her stories
concerning technological change.
Characters are apt to be buildings or machines.