Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Calico the Wonder Horse or The Saga of Stewy Stinker

Calico the Wonder Horse, or the Saga of Stewy Stinker
Virginia Lee Burton
Houghton Mifflin, 1941

I'm sure this isn't a rare find by any means, but I'm a big Virginia Lee Burton fan, and I've never laid eyes on this book until yesterday afternoon at around 10:30 a.m. My son and I were at the library, and I picked it off the shelf to check out, only to find it within the same hour somewhere on sale (this always happens to me!) And, technically, I haven't actually read it to my son yet, but instead had the joy of watching my husband read it aloud to him after dinner last night.

Calico is nothing less than a SAGA. It took over 20 minutes, but I'll swear to you I've never had more fun listening to someone read something out loud. My son was talking up a storm the whole time... pointing things out and generally acting as peanut gallery to my husband's Howdy Doody.

The title of this book alone should be enough to communicate its awesomeness!

Of course Burton's illustrations are superb and these have a comic strip quality, but the WORDS.... God, they are a hysterical slice of heaven! Calico the Wonder Horse is such a bad ass, or as Burton describes her... "she could run like greased lightning and she could turn on a quarter and give you back fifteen cents in change". From there, it just gets better and better.

He had seen Stewy Stinker and his gang of bad men... Butch Bones, Snake Eye Pyezon, Buzzard Bates and little Skunk Skeeter... in the Badlands. Stewy Stinker was said to be so mean he would hold up Santa Claus on Christmas Eve if he had a chance. He rode a horse whose name was Mud.

It goes on and on...

Butch Bones was Stewy Stinker's right-hand man. Butch Bones boasted he was so tough he would bite a live grizzly bear's nose. Snake Eye Pyseson was Stewy Stinker's left-hand man. He was so crooked, they said, that if he swallowed nails he'd spit out corkscrews. Buzzard Bates was so bad even a buzzard wouldn't use him for bate. Little Skunk Skeeter just tagged along because nobody else liked him.

Though Burton is most famous for classics like The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, a friend of mine had recommended Life Story (about the origins of the universe and the life of the world), so I'd been on the look out for her work anyway. Finding this one was like the cherry on top.

You know, you have your old childhood favorites, and sometimes you forget that the authors probably wrote a lot of other books you're not familiar with. Dang... this means some author Goggling is in my future. Like I don't have enough to do already!

Also by:
The Little House
Life Story


Read along on Facebook, tumblr, Twitter and Etsy!


Unknown said...

What a cool site, I found you via the Junior Society. I work at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst MA and I believe we have a Virginia Lee Burton exhibition in the works for the 100th anniversary of her birth.

So glad to have found your blog!

Nicole said...

Have you seen Song of Robin Hood?

Also, Virginia Lee Burton: A Sense of Place was on local PBS recently -- check it out if you haven't seen it!


Anonymous said...

What a cool blog! I have 2 boys and MANY MANY vintage books.


Burgin Streetman said...

Oh man... Andrea, that's so cool. You've got the to-die-for job!

Nicole, you are like a fountain of wisdom. I have never seen the Robin Hood, but of course, I am checking it out now!

Umbrella, thanks for the kudos. I saw your e-bay shop. What a ton of great stuff.

Thanks for reading everybody!

KJ said...

sounds delightful

Mai said...

I'm doing some research on VLB and picked up a link to your blog. I'm late to this party but you might also enjoy Maybelle and ChooChoo! They're both just delightful - and I never knew a thing about them until just recently.

Ms. said...

Dear wonderful kid book's mother. This fan is doing some preliminary research for you and your followers...(I would love to win this weeks book for a little boy I know)...I don't know how to link...but here is what I've got. hope it is useful.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Lee_Burton (the obvious first look)

www.virginialeeburton.com is currently under development. Please check back with us May 2009.For information about the award-winning documentary film about the life and art of Virginia Lee Burton, go towww.virginialeeburtonthefilm.com
Books for virginia lee burton

Virginia Lee Burton: a life in art - Barbara Elleman - 2002 - 136 pages
Examines the life, career, artistic style, and literary themes of the twentieth ...
Mike Mulligan and More: A Virginia Lee Burton ... - Virginia Lee Burton - 2002 - 208 pages
A collection of four books by Caldecott Medal winner Virginia Lee Burton which feature ...
Maybelle the Cable Car - Virginia Lee Burton - 1997
Virginia Lee Burton's original art for Maybelle the Cable Car was retrieved from the ...

You Tube - A 6 minute amateur film adaptation of 'ChooChoo' by Virginia Lee Burton..http://youtu.be/9JAafdYmSb4

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