Hello, friends! Today’s book is Big Machines: The Story Of Virginia Lee Burton, written by our friend Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by John Rocco, a sweet picture book biography of the classic children’s author and illustrator that explores her life, work, and inspiration.
Virginia Lee Burton was known by the residents in her town of Folly Cove as a beautiful, charming, and talented woman. She could dance, grew beautiful flowers, and was a skilled artist and designer. “Jinnee,” would draw beautiful illustrations that made the seasons change, or brought heroes and horses and dinosaurs to life. But her very favorite thing to draw was that which her sons, Ari and Michael, loved best: the big machines. For them, she drew trains, diggers, cable cars, and snow plows, bringing them to life from nothingness and giving them names and personalities that filled her sons with delight. She told inspiring stories with her big machines about kindness, friendship, and loyalty, and she shared these stories with the children of the world, creating a collection of children’s books that are still beloved today.
This was such a warm, sweet story, and I adored it. Burton was very ahead of her time, being a female mid-century author/illustrator who insisted on complete creative control, writing books about heavy machinery that included female protagonists. It was fun learning more about her process and sons; these, in fact, make the book as much a look at Burton herself as it is a celebration of the creative arts and a mother’s love for her children, and gives the story miles of heart. The art is gorgeous, bringing Burton and her work to life with soft, fanciful illustrations that draws the reader into Jinnee’s imagination. The length is good, and JJ enjoyed it, so this one is definitely Baby Bookworm approved!