Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Sherri Duskey Rinker
Illustrator: John Rocco
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Virginia Lee Burton, the well-known author and artist of the books Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Little Engine that Could, dances across these pages as she illustrates images for her two sons, Aris and Michael. Burton’s artistic ability is the central focus of this book. It follows her illustrations as she uses her “magical wands” to create dinosaurs, horses, and, most importantly, machines. Her boys watch, enthralled as she brings machines to life in front of their eyes. Cable cars, crawler tractors, and trains all make an appearance.
In this biographical picture book, the author, Sherri Rinker, describes Virginia Lee Burton and her life. There is a written summary of her life with photographs included in the end. Many of her famous literary and art pieces are referenced throughout the book, including The Little Engine that Could, Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel, and her painting The Little House. This book is not entirely informational due to some fantastical elements that were included. However, Rinker includes many facts, and the book is well-researched. Lovers of machines such as trains and trucks will enjoy this book due to its vibrant illustrations by illustrator John Rocco to imitate Burton’s style. Overall, Big Machines is a well-composed informational piece that details Virginia Burton and her accomplishments.