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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

New Fuse 8 n’ Kate Episode: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

LittleHouseYou know how folks talk all the time about how more men win the Caldecott Award than women? Well, I’ve always sort of ignored that statement, citing in my head all kinds of women from over the years. Then, this week, I decided that we just haven’t done enough women illustrators on our show. Authors, yes, but the only woman we covered was Diana Souza (extra points if you can remember which famous book she illustrated).  Also, Kate hasn’t had a chance to look at a real Gold Medal Caldecott Award winner. Let us change all of that at once!  Sounds simple enough, yes?  All I had to do was to find a Gold Medal Caldecott Award winning book illustrated by a woman that your average person on the street would be familiar with.

It. Was. Hard.  Too hard.  Much harder than it should have been. At long last I settled on The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, which came in at #32 on my 100 Picture Books Poll lo these many years ago.  Even then, it’s debatable whether or not this is the best known of all her books. You can find the latest episode on iTunes as well as here on Soundcloud.

Answer to The Little House Question: Here’s what I wrote on the poll about this book –

Just prior to writing The Little House, Burton actually attempted to write a book that can only be described as far and away ahead of her time.  In the late 30s, early 40s she noticed that her nine-year-old son loved his comic books.  The answer?  Calico the Wonder Horse; or, The Saga of Stewy Slinker was an honest-to-goodness picture book in a comic-book format.  As Minders of Make-Believe puts it, the book was a “gallant though futile gesture.”  The Little House was made soon thereafter and got itself a Caldecott Medal in 1943, so there you go.

Show Notes:

  • Here’s the list of all the Caldecott Award winners. If you can find a really super famous one on there that was illustrated by a woman, tell me what it is (at The kind that the average person on the street would know.
  • Here’s what the Caldecott Award looks like. Three geese and all:


  • Here’s the video Kate and I made. It’s the music video for the song Randolph Caldecott.

  • Old man visiting the house who built it:
OldMan copy

Cameo Alert: Mary Ann! Mary Ann!

  • The phases of the moon


  • Kate’s favorite character – The sassy sun



She’s not wrong. An arm of these sun tattoos would look exceedingly amazing.


  • Quite the lovely lady.  Tell me that wouldn’t be a Sutton Foster part.  And I forgot to mention it but Travis Jonker called her “The Notorious VLB” which I find absolutely perfect.

Jinnee Dancing

  • Here’s the Disney short film they made based on the book. Sterling Holloway and all.

  • By the way, I did read the book to my 3-year-old after we recorded this and he LOVED the book!
  • Sassy sun daisy

SassySunFlower copy

  • The endpapers


  • The horse in the truck.

Happy Horse

  • Kate was right. There is nudity. Of the skinny dipping variety.


  • Kate’s 12-point To Do List

Kate List

  • The New York Times article on the death of June Foray.
  • Peter Sellers doing Beatles songs sounds interesting, yes? Here are a few examples of what it was I was talking about:

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. My favorite book as a child. And now you know how very old I am!

  2. Meg Diskin says:

    Regarding whether or not VLB’s story is realistic, remember the real “Up” house?

  3. Meg Diskin says:

    More about Edith here: Under One Roof: Lessons I Learned from a Tough Old Woman in a Little Old House