Virginia Lee Burton’s name may bring to mind a steam shovel and a man called Mike Mulligan, a charming little house, and a snowplow named Katy. Yet to speak only of Burton’s achievements as a picture book creator would be to paint only part of the canvas of her life. She was also a dancer, an illustrator for an early Boston newspaper, and a musician, designer, sculptor, and printmaker. Together with her husband George Demetrios, Virginia enjoyed a full life. They raised two sons, gardened and kept sheep, entertained friends, and taught art and design classes. Led by Burton, the design classes made up of local artists evolved into the Folly Cove Designers. A cooperative of sorts, this group created elaborately intricate designs of rural scenes and other natural elements, which they would carve into linoleum and print onto fabrics.
Simultaneously, Burton began her career in children’s book writing and illustration. The early success of her first books, Choo Choo, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and The Little House, as well as other books was an auspicious beginning for Burton, and the books have become classic and lasting examples of the fine art of children’s book creation.
Well-known children’s literature expert Barbara Elleman introduces the exuberant life, art, and books of Virginia Lee Burton, complemented by family photographs, illustrations, and other images of her inspiring work.