- One of my favorites was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. It just celebrated its 75th Of course I didn’t read it when it first hit the market in 1942, I enjoyed it during its 30th Anniversary. I no longer have the original hard copy, but I did buy it for my daughter when she was young, so I still have a copy. I liked this book because I live in New York City, and the book showed the effects of urbanization on a place that was once pastoral. At the age of 5, I didn’t know that’s why I liked it. I just liked the fact that the little house find a new happy home after years of neglect.
Perhaps, for me, it was more about relatability. Was I happy where I was? Was I looking for a new place to reside? These are the things I think of 45 years later.
- Another favorite was Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. This one is celebrating its 78th year of existence. Again, didn’t read this one until the early 1970s. I liked this book because here is a little girl who is full of mischief but nevertheless well liked and cared for. And who can forget the clever rhyme scheme.
It was nice to see that although Madeline was a little big much for her caretaker, she was taken care of when it was needed, and not begrudgingly. She was treated so well, that the rest of the girls wanted to also have their appendix (appendices?} removed. Now, I’m not saying my mother would not have taken care of me. Not at all. Of course she would have. I just got a fuzzy feeling when I see other children, especially ones who are not at home, being cared for and loved. I bought this book (hardcover) for my son when he was small.
- The Snowy Day and Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats were two books that I read around the same time. They were both written in the early 1960s, so they were not that old when I got my hands on them. And why did I like them? Well the protagonist was African-American, something that was woefully missing in children’s books in the early 1970s.
I just really liked seeing someone that looked like me in a book. There is no deep hidden psychological reason, just the obvious. Yes, I bought these for my son when he was small.
An Honorable Mention: This one popped up while I was looking on Amazon.I had all but forgotten about it.
Maybelle the Cable Car also by Virginia Lee Burton. I hadn’t thought about this book since I was a child. I didn’t even buy it for my children. What I like about Virginia Lee Burton’s books is that they are urban. She draws subways, cable cars, apartment buildings and just other very urban scenery. What I really liked about this book is the drawing encircled the text. Most picture books of the time had a picture and then under or above were the words. This book had the text in varying places throughout the entire book.
Being in New York City in the 60s/70s I never rode a cable car; however, it isn’t much different than a city bus and that is how I related to it.