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The Little House Paperback – April 26, 1978

4.8 out of 5 stars 259 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Once upon a time there was a Little House way out in the country. She was a pretty Little House and she was 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. Always faintly 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 family moves out and she finds herself alone in the middle of the city, where the artificial lights are so bright that the Little House can no longer see the sun or the moon. She often 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 will rejoice. Young readers are 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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"This engaging picture book clearly presents a wealth of information." Booklist, ALA
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 44 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; New edition edition (April 26, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039525938X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395259382
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.3 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is one of earliest 'reading' books that I remember from my youth more than 40 years ago, but it still has impact on me now. Its allegorical tale of how a beautiful little house becomes encroached by urban civilization, falls into disrepair and disfavour, and then discovers a new life when a fresh pair of eyes see its intrinsic value is truly a timeless one. When I was young and had it read to me by my father it worked on a simple level, and then 25 years later when I rediscovered it by reading it to my own son, I found it working on another, quite adult level. It is truly a gem of a book with a strong message of values for today, even 50 years after it was written. Beautifully yet simply illustrated. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
The year is 1942 and America has fallen head over heels in love with a whole new literary form. It's sweeping the nation! It's appearing hither and yon! Yes, in the early 1940s, picture books were suddenly awash in inanimate objects with human characteristics. Whether it was "The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge", or the Caldecott winning, "The Little House", children were reading about a variety of living breathing pieces of architecture. Virginia Lee Burton was especially good at this kind of book. Her previous venture, "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel", was a smash hit (remaining so today). So Burton decided to up the stakes a little and write a similar story about a little house. In this book, however, Burton outdoes herself by being able to convey seasons, the passage of time, and the nasty ways cities have of encroaching on country landscapes all within a scant 40 pages.

Long ago a little house was built in the country. The man who built her decided that this house, special as it was, could never be bought and sold. Instead, he planned on leaving it to his children, his children's children, and his children's children's children. Etc. The house was pleased with the arrangement. It watched the seasons go by. It watched the children that played in it grow up and move away. It even watched the changing fashions and modes of transportation. Horse and buggies one day, automobiles the next. This is all well and good until a new asphalt road appears. Suddenly it's a heckuva lot easier for people to reach the area in which the little house lives. Things get faster and suddenly the little house is surrounded by tenement houses. Then there are trolley cars (oh the trolley cars).
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Format: Paperback
As with many of the reviewers here, this was my favorite book as a child, and I consider it to be Virginia Lee Burton's quintessential work. While all her books are wonderful, none have the childlike simplicity and artistry of The Little House.

That this book won the Caldecott Medal is no surprise. The illustrations jump off the page. Each page is meticulously drawn with enough vibrant color and detail to peruse for several minutes. Each of the seasons in the country is vividly pictured. As the city encroaches upon the Little House, the frame changes subtly from page to page to show the slow transition from rural to urban life.

Both of my children (6 and 3 years of age) are captivated by the illustrations and the story. Reading this book aloud to them brings back fond memories of the countless hours I spent engrossed in it as a child. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it truly is. Even 60 years after it was written, it still has the power to tug at the heart.
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Format: Paperback
The noted children's book about a house built on a hill away from any town. As the years pass, the city comes closer and closer and eventually surrounds the little house which misses its old hills and trees. One earlier reviewer expressed concern about the apparent anti-urban bias. I think Burton simply had a pro-nature bias rather than anti-urban. And, I think any of us, including those who live in cities or suburbia would not care to live in the sprawl that was depicted in the illustrations and was indeed present in many cities in the 1940s when the book first came out. The book won the 1943 Caldecott Medal for best illustration in a book for children.
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Format: Paperback
This has got to be the best all-round Virginia Lee Burton book, which means it's one of the best children's books of all time. The simple prose reaches a level of lyricism not found in Mike Mulligan, and the illustrations have a folksy charm and energy that's just right. Reading it as an adult, one thinks of all the little houses that were NOT saved, and of the ongoing suburban sprawl that's even now despoiling the landscape, but the fact that the eponymous little house is moved and cared for once again by the end makes it a good story for little kids. Other books by Burton tend to wear me down with repetition, but this one remains fresh with almost every rereading that my kids demand.
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Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book as a child. As a child, I did not grasp the message about urbanization, but even before I could read I would love to look at the drawings. The drawings are really detailed and show people enjoying the countryside, construction vehicles as the city approached and buildings as the city surrounded the house. As a child who wished that there was a pond out back to swim in and who was intrigued with construction vehicles, this book captivated me. And I felt sad about the loss of the countryside, so perhaps I did actually understand the warnings of the book. A book that has amazing illustrations and teaches a lesson? You can be sure that I am buying copies for my nieces.
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