一つの時代から次の時代へ変化の途上も書きこまれています。1939年刊の『マイク・マリガンとスチーム・ショベル』では、メアリー・アン(スチーム・ショベル)が地下室を掘るのを見に来る人たちは、馬の引くワゴン車、ほろつきの馬車、自転車、あるいはジープのような自動車など種々雑多な乗り物でやってきます。フォードがT型モデルを大量生産して売り出すのは1913年ですが、まだ完全なモータリゼーションが進んではいない状況が見て取れます。また、ニューヨークで摩天楼の地下室を掘っているページでは、大勢の見物客の中、女性のスカートはひざ丈の短さですが、田舎の町ポッパビルに行くと、女性たちは 長い膨らんだスカートをはいています。スカートの丈が短くなるのは1920年代フラッパーと呼ばれる女性たちが現れてからで、服装の革命的変化も都会と田舎では時間差のあることが判ります。1952年刊の『ちいさいケーブルカーのメーベル』では女性たちのスカートは全て短いことからもそのことが分かります。

©Aristides Burton Demetrios

©Aristides Burton Demetrios

©Aristides Burton Demetrios


Features and Messages of the V.L. Burton’s Picture Books
Passage of Time

Her naive stories for children clearly depict longitudinal passage of time. “The Little House” describes the days when people living in the agricultural villages moved to cities in the midst of industrialization at the beginning of the 20th century and how their life style changed. “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” shows consumerism in which the old reliable machines and equipment were disposed in pursuit of efficiency of the rapidly advancing mechanical technology. On the other hand, “Maybelle the Cable Car” delineates the possibility of citizens to choose direction of social changes through democratic means of voting.
Her stories also illustrate the transition of times. In “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” published in 1939, people use diverse vehicles including horse-led wagons, covered carriages, bicycles, and such cars as jeeps to come and see Mary Anne (the steam shovel) dig the basement. Though Ford developed and mass-produced T-model cars in 1913, motorization was still on its way. In the page where the basement of a skyscraper was dug, we can see women wearing knee-long skirts, while in the countryside of Poppervile, women wear long and bell shaped skirts. The skirts got shorter after the emergence of women called flappers in 1920’s. Evolutional changes in clothing proceeded at the different speed between cities and rural areas. In “Maybelle the Cable Car”, all women wore shorter skirts.

“The Little House” Original artwork
1942, Watercolor on paper,
Collection of the Kerlan Collection at University of Minnesota
©Aristides Burton Demetrios

“Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” Sketch
Undated, Ink, crayon and colored pencil on cardboard
Collection of the Cape Ann Museum
©Aristides Burton Demetrios

“Katy and the Big Snow” Study Papers
1943, Watercolor on paper
Collection of the Cape Ann Museum
©Aristides Burton Demetrios