Today In Disney History ~ August 8th
The Little House is a 1942 book written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton. Author Virginia Lee Burton has stated that “The Little House was based on our own little house which we moved from the street into a field of daisies with apple trees growing around.” Burton denied it was a critique of urban sprawl, but instead wished to convey the passage of time to younger readers. Being a very visually driven book, many times Burton changed the amount of text to fit the illustration. “If the page is well drawn and finely designed, the child reader will acquire a sense of good design which will lead to an appreciation of beauty and the development of good taste. Primitive man thought in pictures, not in words, and this visual conception is far more fundamental than its sophisticated translation into verbal modes of thought.”
The book was also made into a 1952 animated short by the Walt Disney Company, directed by Wilfred Jackson and narrated by Sterling Holloway. It has also been released as an audio book. The apartments and skyscrapers from the Disney adaptation of “The Little House” make a cameo appearance in Toontown in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
The story centers on a house built at the top of a small hill, far out in the country, who is delighted when a newleywed couple choose her for a home. However, the house feels lonely at night and wonders what it might be like to have other houses to talk to, often gazing at the lights of the distant city (known as urban sprawl), which can grow even more closer. Eventually two stately Victorian mansions are built on either side of the Little House. She is happy to have some neighbours at last, but is offended when the mansions rudely look down on her for being inferior. One night, a fire breaks out by unknown cause and both of the mansions burn down to the ground and got destroyed. The Little House considers this a pity, even though they weren’t very nice. The cartoon then switches to the 20th century, and the Little House is shown to have had two tall tenement buildings built on either side of her. Sadly, her family moves away to escape all the noise that the residents in both buildings make, but the house reminds herself that come what may, she must stand her ground. Years pass, and the tenements get demolished to make way for three towering skyscrapers. By this time, the Little House has become battered and worn with age and has begun to long for her old life the small hill in the countryside. One day, a wrecking crew comes, presumably to demolish her, but the Little House doesn’t mind because she has come to consider herself that she’s “just in the way” and “no good to anybody.” She also resolves that she should be glad she has lived for as long as she did. However much to her delight, it turns out that they had come to move her out to the country and fix her up so that a new couple can come and live in her.