Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968) was an American illustrator known for designing the whole work of the book she was working on: design, illustration, typeface, and space. She said that first she made her drawings or preliminary sketches, then she wrote the story, as it came first to her in images. She said, “I worked with and for my audience, my own children. I would tell them the story over and over, watching their reaction and adjusting to their interest or lack of interest ... the same with the drawings. Children are very frank critics.”
She wrote and illustrated seven children's books, including "The Little House" (1943), which won the Caldecott Medal. She also illustrated six books by other authors.
She said that "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" was created out of her son’s love of steam shovels and other big equipment.