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The Little House

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Virginia Lee Burton won the Caldecott Medal in 1943 for her memorable picture book The Little House, a poignant story of a cute country cottage that becomes engulfed by the city that grows up around it. The house has an expressive face of windows and doors, and even the feelings of a person, so she’s sad when she’s surrounded by the dirty, noisy city’s hustle and bustle: “She missed the field of daisies / and the apple trees dancing in the moonlight.” Fortunately, there’s a happy ending, as the house is taken back to the country where she belongs.

40 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1942

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About the author

Virginia Lee Burton

33 books194 followers
Virginia Lee Burton was an American illustrator and children's book author. Burton produced seven self-illustrated children's books. She married Boston Museum school sculptor, George Demetrios, with whom she had two sons and lived in Folly Cove, Gloucester. She died at 59.

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5 stars
22,557 (55%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,392 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 88 books231k followers
October 16, 2015
One of the classics. And there's a good reason this book has been around for 70 years.

Upsides: A sweet story. Wonderful marriage of illustration and text working in concert. A guest cameo from Mike Mulligan and his Steam shovel if you're paying close enough attention.

Downsides: Your kids might wonder why the hell you are crying your eyes out when the main character of the story is a house.

Well worth your time.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,869 reviews31.2k followers
May 22, 2018
The Power of Nature. The house is content living in nature and she is content. She is curious about the city. Eventually the city swallows her up and she loses her color and gets sad. She is moved back out to the country where she is happy again.

I take this as the power of nature and when we live in it's flows we are healthy and happy and when we rush about, we aren't so happy and we get sick more.

A powerful story. I think it's still relevant to our world today. I love this little story and it's beautiful art and sun and moon charts.

The kids enjoyed this one too. This holds up and it was written during WWII. It is even color, so the publisher really believed in it.
Profile Image for Majenta.
294 reviews1,292 followers
August 2, 2021
What a wonderful classic! Take note especially of the inside-cover design...
Profile Image for Melissa.
Author 29 books354 followers
February 17, 2012
Rilla isn't sure she likes the look of Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House. "Hmm." She eyes it skeptically. "It doesn't really look Intresting."

"I think you'll like it," I say. "It's about a big city growing up around this little pink house."

Pink is the key word in that sentence. She'll give almost anything a chance, if there's pink involved.

"Hot pink," she murmurs approvingly, studying the cover. There is no higher praise.

"Let's give it a try," I suggest. "We can read something else afterward."

" Roxaboxen ."


She has a laugh her sisters call the Evil Chipmunk. "Of course! It's my favorite book."

Huck climbs half on top of me and begins to count the trees around the little pink house. He's very into counting, these days.

I love quiet books like The Little House, the kind that tiptoe their way into a child's heart. The house is built, the countryside blooms, the seasons change. The sun arcs across the page and this must be pored over, wait, Mommy, don't turn the page yet. And then the next spread, the calendar of moons. We must pause while Rilla touches each crescent and disk, naming the days. The road comes rolling out from the distant city; that's Huck's page to study. Steam shovel, big rocks, little rocks, tar, steamroller. He could stay there all day. But the city is encroaching, surrounding, swallowing the little pink house, and Rilla has picked up the urgency. We have to read quickly now; she needs to know. Trolley line, elevated train, subway, skyscrapers, you can hardly see the poor house.

It's magical, you know, when the movers come to carry it away. A house on the back of a truck! Both children are astounded at this marvel. They'd have taken unicorns and dragons in stride, but a house riding along the road to a new hill in the countryside: clearly this is a wonder of the world.

Later, when Huck is napping, Rilla pounces on me, brandishing the book. The pink house winks from the cover.


"Yes. It's my favorite book."

(Originally posted here.)
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,430 reviews810 followers
July 7, 2021

An all-time favourite children’s picture book that’s as old as I am (old) and as pertinent today as ever.

I just saw a review of this and HAD to add it to my list. I’ve loved it forever. I know we were given a copy when our kids were little, so I’ve used that as a date, but who cares?

Upshot: cute little country farmhouse is gradually swallowed up by 'progress', which is still happening. You can see a picture of the original Little House on the book cover.

The Little House photo Little House in country_zpswu3gwc6x.jpg
The Little House

The city moves to the country, and it sprawls and builds and drives all around the Little House and its apple tree until the tiny cottage is completely overshadowed by skyscrapers and all kinds of vehicles.

The Little House with city photo Little House in city_zps3inwgtp4.jpg
The Little House, surrounded (you can just see it peering fearfully out from under the overhead train)

Then, the rescue! The house is relocated . . . back to a similar hillside location.

Meanwhile, there’s not much left of this Sydney house to relocate. It was all approved apparently and is legal. We may think of many inconveniences when we buy half a house, but this is probably more far-fetched than we would have imagined!

Lewisham, Sydney 2016 photo Little House half house_zpswkvyuc01.jpg
Lewisham, (Sydney, Australia) 2016

Question: What will happen when we run out of hillsides for our Little Houses? It's too sad to contemplate.

Great book to introduce children questioning how we live, what we do, and why we do it.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,290 reviews341 followers
November 23, 2019
Excellent story and fantastic illustrations! A little house in the country enjoying all seasons day and night until more people come and more houses being built and the country is no longer but a city with busy traffic and tall buildings.. amazing book. Will definitely read again for my daughter.
Profile Image for Caroline.
503 reviews562 followers
December 22, 2019
A charming book about a house contentedly settled in the countryside, only to find that as time goes on there are massive building projects all around it - and finally it ends up all squashed up in the middle of a huge metropolis, surrounded by skyscrapers, main roads, railways and so forth. The house is depressed, as it loved the countryside. Fortunately the story ends happily, with the house rescued by it's original owner, and towed out to a new habitat of hills, fields and flowers.

I think this book raises an important point. For many of us, where we live is incredibly relevant to our well-being. I for instance love inner cities. I would rather walk along a busy main road inhaling exhaust fumes than wander round a Wordsworthian idyll of daffodil-scattered countryside. Each to his own. May we all find our bliss.

Read via Open Library. The print for this book was faint. There were a couple of pages that were unreadable, but most of them were okay.

With thanks to Caroline for the recommendation!

Profile Image for *TUDOR^QUEEN* .
435 reviews443 followers
July 23, 2018
Read this many, many times as a child in the sixties. A beloved book that I still have today.
Profile Image for Caroline .
418 reviews569 followers
December 26, 2022
A childhood favorite with a story line that's unique and important. I've had to look harder to find modern children's books that have this combination. The Little House is enhanced by its charming illustrations, one of the best parts being that Burton anthropomorphized this cozy house with feelings and expressions (front windows as eyes and door as mouth) that change from happy when living in the scenic, peaceful countryside to sad when that same area becomes increasingly industrialized with each passing year.

As a kid, I remember loving staring at the details on each page, flipping back and forth to note this or that change. And I thought, and still think, it's neat that the house was treated to (the extremely rare!) privilege of being loaded onto a truck and moved.

For anyone looking for a book gift that will become a cherished favorite, I highly recommend buying The Little House. It's a quality work with an actual message that children will enjoy for both the story itself and the illustrations.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,652 followers
May 10, 2016
I loved this children's book about a pretty little house out in the country. The house enjoys trees and flowers and seeing the seasons change. But soon a road is built in front of the house, and more cars come through, and tall buildings crowd around the house. The house is sad being in the city, and it misses seeing the sun and the trees. In the end, the house is rescued and moved back out to the country, where it's happy again.

Virginia Lee Burton also wrote "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel," and both are classic children's books about dealing with major changes in the world. The books are beautifully drawn with lovely storytelling. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,121 reviews104 followers
March 1, 2019
Although from a narrational and textual consideration, I have tended to find in particular author/illustrator Virginia Lee Burton's rather detailed and minute descriptions of the increasing urban spread surrounding the "Little House" a bit monotonous and repetitive, for the most part, her Caldecott Medal winning The Little House glowingly presents both an aesthetically stunning, visually pleasant and also astutely representational marriage of text and accompanying images (with especially her illustrative use of colour and light making and with no pun intended here The Little House truly shine). And yes, actually that very sense of monotony I feel during the illustrated spreads of The Little House which depict and describe how the Little House is being increasingly surrounded and almost devoured by the encroachment of urbanity, that is in fact rather majorly realistic in and of itself and as such indeed to be much commended. For I personally do very much and strongly consider cities as general entities considerably more mundane, non-versatile and also rather increasingly boringly monotonous than the majority of rural or small town areas (something that I absolutely do find Virginia Lee Burton has both visually and verbally totally and astutely captured with The Little House, showing for example, how even as the city keeps expanding and growing around the Little House with cars, subways, skyscrapers and masses of people rushing around from place to place, there was actually much more fun, games, engagement and personal interaction when the Little House was a still small rural family farm with a few neighbours close by but not encroaching). Wonderfully engaging, visually marvellous (and indeed, considering that Virginia Lee Burton penned and illustrated The Little House in 1942, still relevant today with its depictions of urbanisation and urban sprawl, except sadly that today, that in 2019, finding a rural, not yet too developed area to which one can move or to which one can relocate a small house from a given city area is of course and more than likely much much more difficult than in the 1940s, as there are just not that many empty and non urban areas available anymore, and indeed, even those rural and empty spaces that do still exist always or at least rather too often often seem to be in constant danger of being swallowed up into city limits and/or made into sterile bedroom community like subdivisions).
Profile Image for Ronyell.
955 reviews322 followers
March 15, 2014
I have been going through some books from my childhood and I have stumbled upon this great gem called “The Little House.” “The Little House” is a Caldecott Medal award winning book by Virginia Lee Burton and it is about how a small house learns the true meaning of “There’s no place like home” when a growing civilization is built around it over the years. “The Little House” is definitely a gem that you cannot afford to miss!

When I first read this book when I was little, I thought it was a bit boring about reading about a little house just sitting there while everything around her was changing, but after reading it now, I started to see how amazing and beautiful this book really is! Virginia Lee Burton, author of “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel,” has done a terrific job at both illustrating and writing this book as it details a little house’s experience to life in the city. I loved the way that Virginia Lee Burton made the little house seem more like a human being than an object since the little house has to deal with the changes that happened around her and this book strongly related to me and also many children who had a similar experience since where I lived, more houses are built around my neighborhood whereas the first time we came to our neighborhood years ago, there were barely any houses in sight and dealing with this kind of experience sometimes gave me anxiety, but I eventually got used to it. I also loved the message of the book about just having a simple life can make you happy since the book teaches children that you do not have to have a rich apartment complex or a huge house to be happy, you can just have a small house or a comfortable house that suits your needs to be happy with your life. Virginia Lee Burton’s illustrations are just beautiful and outstanding as ever as the little house is shown to be pink and is always smiling in every image except for the images of where the little house is in the city and is miserable. My favorite images in this book were of the scenes where the little house is shown in several different seasons like winter, fall, spring, and summer and you can see the atmosphere around the little house change as each season comes by such as in the summer, everything is green and in winter, everything is white. I also loved the way that Virginia Lee Burton contrasted the country as a peaceful looking place by having light colors around the environment while the city is shown to be a dark and dreary looking place.

All in all, “The Little House” is a beautiful book about various changes going on in your surroundings that many children will definitely enjoy for many years! I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book for smaller children.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog


Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,019 reviews921 followers
May 9, 2016
Extremely cute book! I really enjoyed it :) It really shows how you shouldn't take your life for granted because one day it could completely change.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,292 reviews2,287 followers
November 17, 2020
One of the best picture storybooks ever!

It depicts so well how we are ruining the beautiful nature in the name of development and industrialisation.

This so called old sturdy house witnesses it all until in the end it had to be shifted somewhere else green and quite like how the surrounding used to be.

The artwork is just amazing! One of the best I have come across!
Profile Image for Rachel.
40 reviews5 followers
January 14, 2009
This is a classic example of a carefully, meaningfully politicized picture book. The little house, sturdily built during a simpler age, loves her life in the country but harbors a strong curiosity of what it might be like to live in the city. Her curiosity is satisfied, with potentially devastating results, when the city encroaches on her countryside home.

Burton's tale relies on an almost universal acceptance of the pastoral ideal, and her message about the cost of rampant urbanization is told subtly, yet without subterfuge. Since this is a picture book, in many ways it oversimplifies the tension between the country and the city, and the country is set up as a universal good while the city is painted as a heartless villain. Yet at the same time it provides a clear context--as relevant today as it was in 1943--through which to question the "progress" of urban development.

And of course, from a more childlike perspective, this is also the sweet story of a little house with a soul who, after years of neglect, is returned to a home in the country with a family to love and care for her. The little pink house has the most charming, life-like face, and as a child I always wanted to live in it. In some ways, I still do.
Profile Image for Sophia Triad.
2,239 reviews3,451 followers
March 14, 2019
This is one of the best children's book I have ever read!
Simple but elegant drawings and simple but meaningful wordings.

The little house lives happily at the countryside, until a highway is built next to it and suddenly the city expands around it.

This book is a wonderful way to show to the little children:
1. How things evolve and nothing stays the same for long.
2. The fact that no matter how things change, you still can choose a different way.

Little house was sad and lost for a while, but it was moved again back to countryside by people who cared and understood the importance and uniqueness of its existence.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
467 reviews1 follower
June 7, 2008
One of my favorite books from childhood this story remains timeless. This "little house" began its life in a bucolic, country setting and over time its integrity becomes threatened by encroaching development and neglect. For children, the concept of time is difficult to process. This story make it seem more understandable.
Of course there is a happy ending and the house is rescued and relocated to the country. I am reminded of this story when I see small towns transformed by strip malls and unplanned development.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,240 reviews
April 8, 2014
When I saw "The Little House" I was instantly filled with warm nostalgia, and a little bit of melancholy. I knew the book was important to me as a child, but I couldn't remember why I felt a twinge of sadness. As soon as I started reading it, I remembered: the poor Little House getting all forgotten and broken in the big city's shadow. Even so, I love the book and it really made an impression on me as a child. I love the cadence of the story and the illustrations, all the details in the changing seasons and times. The Little House is so expressive and I was happy with the ending. I grew up in the country and loved it and would have missed it terribly if I'd moved; it seemed so fitting that the Little House would love it, too, miss it and want to return.

Reading it again as an adult, I couldn't help but wonder how a child growing up in the city might feel about the story. I'm not sure if the point is to be negative about big cities (somehow, "They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot" was stuck in my head after I read this) but it certainly seemed that way. I don't know, maybe it was simply supposed to be about belonging somewhere and not wanting change.
Profile Image for Melissa.
1,076 reviews71 followers
May 2, 2017
Many years ago I owned this little book & record, playing it on my little record player. I wish I still had it, but through moves and houses it was long gone before I reached High School. But I did find the old cartoon on YouTube today while I was trying to locate the book's author after all these years, plus a read-along of the original book. Good memories today, while looking for 'a book you loved as a child' for a reading challenge this year.
Profile Image for Kellyn Roth.
Author 26 books904 followers
February 15, 2017
As a little girl, I'd ask my parents to read this picture book to me over and over again. It is so sweet, and the illustrations are so great.

I love how the pictures (and words, of course) personify a house without giving it overly human qualities like some children's books nowadays ... eyes, for instance. Except in the Pixar animated movie Cars, I hate machines/house/etc. with eyes or other facial parts that makes them look like creepy little humans. *squirms uncomfortably* So whenever I return to this book, I sigh with relief. :P

The plot is awesome! I really HATE big cities (like, with a vengeance ... I can't go near them without getting tight in the throat), and so this story is perfect for me.

But did you notice ... the little house's second home isn't as good as his/her first one. :-/ At least, that's my opinion ...

~Kellyn Roth, Reveries Reviews
Profile Image for Miketora.
4 reviews
October 21, 2015
Very lovely story. Now, we are too busy.
The little house love to see flowers and feel wind blowing. To live slowly is very important. This story maybe warning to the present generation.
Profile Image for Stacy.
1,004 reviews91 followers
March 9, 2017
I just loved this book. The little house was sad to see things change around her, but it had a happy ending.
Profile Image for Rosie Nguyễn.
Author 5 books5,920 followers
August 26, 2017
Tranh đẹp, dễ thương hợp với trẻ con, nhưng nội dung thì sâu sắc người lớn đọc vẫn thích, một câu chuyện trong trẻo về đô thị hóa. Thích lắm.
Profile Image for Benji Martin.
863 reviews63 followers
September 12, 2018
This is one of the few Caldecott winners published before the 70's that I think could win if it was published today. Such a good little book.
Profile Image for J. Boo.
707 reviews20 followers
January 25, 2019
Burton manages to cram an incredible amount of pathos into the best of her books. I think nostalgia isn't quite the right word, but rather a sense of the loss that happens with the passage of time. The rise of the new excavators and graveyard of steam shovels in "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel", and the gradual urbanization that left "The Little House" stuck in the city, far from her beloved apple trees.

Wonderful details hidden in the illustrations.

I got a little teary-eyed when reading this. The only other book that ever caused me such an emotional reaction was "The Velveteen Rabbit".

DS#1(4) and DD#1(2) enjoyed it as well. Five stars all-round!

Update: two years later, and everyone still loves it.
Profile Image for Polly.
3,212 reviews45 followers
February 5, 2012
I know the big fascination for me as a child was that a house could be moved--I'd certainly never heard of such a thing at the age of four or whatever I was then. And watching the city grow was pretty neat too, even though it didn't look much like the only city I knew at that point in my life (Toronto in the 1980s).
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,110 reviews186 followers
June 2, 2019
Built to stand the test of time, a little pink house leads a happy life in the countryside, watching the sun rise and set, the moon wax and wane, and the human generations go by. She occasionally wonders what life is like in the big city, never dreaming that one day her curiosity will be satisfied. One day a road is put in, running right by her front yard, and soon the area around her is filled with homes. The homes gives way to buildings, the buildings grow ever taller, and trolley-cars and then an elevated train-track appear before her door. Eventually the little house finds that she cannot see the moon or stars, because of the lights of the city, that she sees the sun only at noon, and that she has become dirty and dilapidated. Is it the end for the Little House? Or is another change in store...?

Awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1943, this classic picture-book from Virginia Lee Burton, also the creator of such beloved childhood titles as Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow , is a sweet tale that, for all its vintage artwork, feels very fresh and contemporary to me. There are days when, part of a rushing crowd here on the streets of New York City, or squeezed into a packed subway car, I long for quieter, calmer locales - places where I can smell the flowers and see the trees. Even in the less crowded suburban town where I live, I sometimes long for the fresh beauty of the country - somewhere I can sit and really see the stars! Burton taps into that longing with this story of change, painting a portrait of development that is by no means flattering. There is real pathos in the transformation of the world around the house, who is overtaken by urban sprawl, and slowly strangled by the inherent disadvantages of city life, just as there is joy in her liberation from urbanity, and her renewed existence as a family home. The artwork has an old-fashioned feeling to it, but is still very appealing. I particularly liked the way that changing fashions - in both clothing and mode of transportation - are chronicled in the illustrations, through the parade of tiny people and vehicles passing by the house in each scene.

In sum: an engaging, heartwarming tale is joined to appealing artwork in The Little House, making it a book that (much like the house itself) has stood the test of time.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,392 reviews

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