Simple Revelations

Reviews of More by I.C. Springman and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
More by I.C. Springman, illustrated by Brian Lies (Bats at the Beach) (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children), contrasts spare language (“Nothing. Something. A few, several…”) with rich, progressively clutter-filled paintings to depict what happens when a magpie with an eye for all things shiny, tiny and possibly useful brings an excess of treasures back to its nest—and the additional nests that are needed to hold the stuff, like so many additions, sheds and storage units. Preschoolers will relate to this predilection for spotting and shoving treasures into every available pocket and nook, and as with all of Lies’ books, readers will delight and discover much in the small and clever details (my favorite: a squirrel among the cleanup crew clutching a nut—the hardware kind). The illustrations are playful, and the message is clear with the last words of the book: “Enough? Yes, enough.”

In celebration of its 70th anniversary comes a new release of Caldecott winner The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). Included with the hardcover is a CD with narrations of the story, including one with page-turn prompts, and a reading of Burton’s lesser-known Maybelle the Cable Car. In these two stories, as well as the beloved Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Burton championed and rendered her characters—anthropomorphized buildings and vehicles facing obsolescence—sympathetic with her precise paintbrush and lyrical prose. The Little House is not only a cautionary story of unheeded development, as the far-away lights of the city soon replace the swaying apple trees outside the little house’s windows, but also a lovely study of seasons, phases of the moon and the inevitable passage of time.