The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
I suppose I don't really need to mention this book. Surely everyone has read it! But I can't resist. Perhaps some brand new parent will stumble upon my blog one day and learn of this treasure for the first time.
The illustrations of the happy little house out in the country as it is slowly overtaken by time and the city are brilliant. The colors change from vibrant and natural to the dirty browns and blacks of a grim city. I don't have anything against cities in general, having spent four very happy years in the Bronx and Brooklyn, but not every city is a vibrant urban community. This one is dark and looming and the poor house has grown dilapidated. Though the text is quite good, this is one picture book that could work perfectly as a wordless book without any changes at all. Even young children can see the changing of the seasons and the advance of technology.
I love how the house is rescued because someone recognizes her beauty and charm under the grime and disrepair. Just because something is old and worn down doesn't mean it is past it's usefulness or should be heedlessly discarded. The entire city stops and waits as the house is picked up and moved back out to the country.
If I keep up this weekly series long enough, I imagine you'll see nearly all of Virginia Lee Burton's picture books featured.