Folly Cove Sketches

Remembering Virginia Lee Burton

Generations of parents, children, and librarians have treasured Virginia Lee Burton’s beloved books Mike Mulligan and The Little House. June Vail’s warm, honest, joyful memoir offers intimate glimpses into Burton’s wide ranging artistic projects and everyday life. Vail vividly recounts how living with her great-aunt Jinnee in the Folly Cove, Massachusetts, community broadened her teenage perspectives and inspired some unexpected life choices.

“…Vail …details her relationship to her great aunt and to the place she made her home and art, with warmth and clarity, presenting a place of both magic creative crackle and disciplined work.”

Nina McLaughlin, Boston Globe, New England Literary News

Endorsements for Folly Cove Sketches

When Mike and his steam shovel Mary Anne find themselves out of work, the ingenious solution turns out literally to be hearth, home, and community. These concepts are central, too, to Burton’s own life as a creator. Folly Cove Sketches abounds with insights about what it means to live the life of an artist and how ― no matter what our discipline ― art brings us home to ourselves.

―Charlotte Agell, children’s books illustrator and author of Maybe Tomorrow?

Most of us in looking back on our youth want to either upgrade our memories or avoid them altogether.  This lovely memoir accomplishes something quite different.  In looking back on the decade of her twenties, June Vail realized that she could not have fully appreciated the summers she spent with her great aunt – the extraordinary writer and artist Virginia Lee Burton and her husband, master sculptor, George Demetrios. This book revisits that time with eyes of true appreciation, and shares her discoveries – not just about making art, but making life an art.  What a gift it is. 

― Lindsay Crouse, Actor

June Vail’s poetic, vividly cinematic memoir reveals the world of celebrated artist and children’s book author Virginia Lee Burtonand her husband, sculptor George Demetrios:the lives they lived, the art they created, and the community they nurtured. Folly Cove Sketches is a substantial contribution to the legacies of two twentieth century American artists who truly embraced the “art spirit.” 

―Christine Lundberg, PhD., Executive Producer Virginia Lee Burton: A Sense of Place

As her great-niece, Vail had special insight into Virginia Lee Burton’s family life; she shares delightful and sometimes even painful memories of being a reserved young woman living for extended periods in the midst of bohemian chaos. Her specific experience enlightens Burton admirers about the joys and struggles of creating her timeless children’s books, touchstones for many generations of readers even to this day. 

―Nancy Gibson-Nash, co-founder, Illustration InstituteSaveSaveSaveSave