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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Burton, Virginia Lee

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Virginia Lee Burton was born on August 30, 1909 in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. She studied art at the California School of Fine Arts and the Boston Museum School. One of her earliest jobs was as a “sketcher” for the arts section of the Boston Transcript. She married George Demetrios, a sculptor and her teacher at the Museum School, in 1931. They settled in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where they had two sons. “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.” Thirteen publishers rejected her first manuscript about a dust particle, Joniffer Lint. When her three-year-old son fell asleep on her lap while she read it to him, she stopped sending it to publishers, and thereafter relied on children as her primary critics. She won the 1942 Caldecott Medal for The Little House. An entire generation of children remembers Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel because Captain Kangaroo read it to them frequently on his morning television show.

 

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