Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with pr...

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Title:Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Author:Virginia Lee Burton
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Reviews

  • Maryanne

    Childhood favorite, I remember hearing this on the Captain Kangaroo show and loving it ever since, not only because the steam shovel's name is Mary Anne (spelled the same way as my name.)

  • Ronyell

    When I first heard about this book, I was wondering to myself what was so special about a book being about a man and his steam shovel. Well, when I read this book I was amazed at how this book turned out! “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel” is a memorable children’s book by Virginia Lee Burton and it is about how a man named Mike Mulligan tries to prove to everyone that his steam shovel, Mary Anne, can dig up a huge cellar for the new town hall in one day. “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel”

    When I first heard about this book, I was wondering to myself what was so special about a book being about a man and his steam shovel. Well, when I read this book I was amazed at how this book turned out! “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel” is a memorable children’s book by Virginia Lee Burton and it is about how a man named Mike Mulligan tries to prove to everyone that his steam shovel, Mary Anne, can dig up a huge cellar for the new town hall in one day. “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel” is a great book for children who love reading about steam shovels and learning about the power of friendship!

    Wow! This was such an amazing book! Virginia Lee Burton has done an excellent job at both illustrating and writing this terrific book about the importance of true friendship. Virginia Lee Burton’s writing is simple yet cute at the same time as she effectively tells Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne’s story. What I really loved about this book was how close Mike Mulligan was to his steam shovel, Mary Anne. I thought that it was really cute about how Mike Mulligan gave his steam shovel a beautiful name, since it truly shows how Mike treated his steam shovel like an actual friend rather than a regular machine and I also loved the way that Mike is always praising Mary Anne’s hard work as he truly appreciates Mary Anne’s hard work. I loved how Virginia Lee Burton made Mike into such a caring and confident character, even after he was put out of the job because Mary Anne was too old to compete with the newer steam shovels since he stayed with Mary Anne throughout his career. Virginia Lee Burton’s illustrations are just simply beautiful and colorful and I really loved the image of Mary Anne herself as she looks like an old, fashioned steam shovel and yet has a somewhat human expression as you see her smiling on every page. Another image I loved was the image of Mike Mulligan himself as he looks so small on every page compared to Mary Anne and he wears blue overalls with a red shirt and he also looks really built for doing his job. Another thing I loved about the illustrations were some images where Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne were shown to look like characters that came out of a superhero comic strip as there are some flashing colors around them to indicate that.

    This is not really a big deal to me, but the only slight con of this book is that the story and the illustrations might seem a bit outdated for the current generation of children, since this book was made during the 1930s and smaller children might be confused about what steam shovels are and parents or grandparents who were born during the 1930s might be able to explain to their children what times were like during the 1930s involving steam shovels.

    Overall, “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel” is a truly heartwarming story about the true importance of friendship that will remain in many children’s hearts for many generations to come. I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.

  • Annie

    Yes, its true -- I dreaded the nights (night after night after night) when one of my sons would insist we read this book! Why? Because it's long, and detailed -- good for the child, terrible for a weary parent. My boys memorized the story, and if I ever tried to skip a page, I was found out and the missing page was revisited.

    This book is a great gift to give to any child who is enthralled with heavy machinery, but there's more to it than that. At the time the story is written (1939) Mike Mulliga

    Yes, its true -- I dreaded the nights (night after night after night) when one of my sons would insist we read this book! Why? Because it's long, and detailed -- good for the child, terrible for a weary parent. My boys memorized the story, and if I ever tried to skip a page, I was found out and the missing page was revisited.

    This book is a great gift to give to any child who is enthralled with heavy machinery, but there's more to it than that. At the time the story is written (1939) Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne, his steam shovel, are becoming outdated. They used to be busy in the big city, making basements for big buildings. But as always happens, something better - faster, more efficient gas, electric and Diesel shovels - is replacing them.

    Mike Mulligan knows they still have value. He's always told people that Mary Anne could dig as much in a day as a hundred men could dig in a week, though he's never been quite sure this is true.

    To find work, he ventures into the country to the town of Popperville, where a new Town Hall is being built. Mike promises to build the cellar in just one day ("What!" said Henry B. Swap. "Dig a cellar in just one day! It would take a hundred men at least a week to dig the cellar for our new town hall." ) Henry and the townpeople are swayed when Mike promises that "If we can't do it, you won't have to pay."

    The citizens of Bangerville and Bopperville, Kipperville and Kopperville plus all the people from Popperville come out to watch Mike and Mary Anne work hard under the hot sun. They finish the job as the sun sets, just in the nick of time.

    One small boy has been watching them, and he asks a really good question - "How are they going to get out?" Mike was in such a hurry, he forgot to make a way to get Mary Anne out of the cellar.

    Everyone tries to think of a solution, but it's that astute little boy who comes up with the best one. They decide to keep the Steam Shovel in the cellar, and build the town hall over them. Mike Mulligan can be the janitor, the steam shovel will keep the building warm in the winter, they won't have to buy a new furnace (Henry B. Swap really likes this frugal thought!) and everyone is happy.

    The kids who read it especially like looking at all the tiny details in the pictures, but I think they especially like the small boy finding the solution that none of the adults can figure out.

    In retrospect, I suppose it really wasn't that awful to have to read it again and again and again. There is the grandparent's revenge,too - I saved the book with my son's scribblings on it and just handed it over to him, to read again and again and again to his little boy!

    Definitely worth buying the hardcover edition!

  • Lorraine

    I have never forgotten this marvelous children's book that I read and reread many times when I was quite young. I just reread this cherished story again. Virginia Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is and always will be one of the greatest children’s books ever written! 5 stars!

  • Cannon

    Dopest book ever. Better than 50 shades or potter. Will read every day. 10/10

  • Vicki

    Mike Mulligan has been my most favorite book ever since I was in grade school. There was no other book that thrilled me like this one. I loved the illustrations, I can still see that last picture and it still warms my heart. Everyone should read this. My sister and I discussed this book and the fond memories of it on our birthday cruise.

    I guess the cool nights reminded us of the Steam Shovel.

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)

    This was given to Hugh when he was born, a gift from friends of my husband's parents (I only know/remember this because they inscribed the book, something I wish more people would do when they give books as gifts!), and up until that moment I had completely forgotten all about this story. It came back to me quickly when I saw the distinctive illustrations and read the story again after all these years. I read it quite a lot as a kid, I loved it so. It's a sad story, yet positive too.

    First publis

    This was given to Hugh when he was born, a gift from friends of my husband's parents (I only know/remember this because they inscribed the book, something I wish more people would do when they give books as gifts!), and up until that moment I had completely forgotten all about this story. It came back to me quickly when I saw the distinctive illustrations and read the story again after all these years. I read it quite a lot as a kid, I loved it so. It's a sad story, yet positive too.

    First published in 1939, it speaks to the change of eras, the death of the old and the celebration of shiny new things. Mike Mulligan is a construction worker who, along with his steam shovel (a steam-powered excavator) called Mary Anne, has dug canals, and cut through mountains for railways, and levelled hills for highways. He's always been sure that Mary Anne "could dig as much in a day as a hundred men could dig in a week, but he had never been quite sure that this was true."

    But then it gets harder to get new jobs because of "the new gasoline shovels and the new electric shovels and the new Diesel motor shovels" that were taking over. Mike didn't want to sell Mary Anne for junk like all the other steam shovel drivers were dong. "Mike loved Mary Anne. He couldn't do that to her." He had taken good care of her but no one wanted them anymore. Then they hear that the nearby town of Popperville was going to build a new town hall, so they head over and offer their services. Mike makes a deal with one of the selectmen, that if they can dig the cellar in a day they get paid, but if they don't they won't.

    Mike and Mary Anne start the next day as the sun is coming up, and they work super fast. As more and more people gather to watch, Mary Anne digs faster and faster. They manage to dig the cellar in a day - a job that would have taken a hundred men a week to do - but then realise that there's no way to get Mary Anne out of the hole she's finished digging. A little boy has a bright idea: why not leave her in the cellar and build the town hall above her? "Let her be the furnace for the new town hall," he says. So that's what they do, and Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne live in the cellar and everyone goes to visit them and tell stories.

    Even as a kid I found this story sad, even a bit depressing, though I also loved it and kept coming back to it (I may have been a girl, but I was more interested in cars and tractors and things like that, than dolls - in fact, I had no interest in dolls at all, especially those horrid baby ones that wee when you feed them, I thought that was a useless, boring idea for a doll and I didn't like the way toy companies were trying to make my into a mummy at the age of four! Yes, I really did think that when I was little). Even the illustrations ratchet-up the nostalgia factor, not just because they're 30s style (and the details clearly show that in-between-eras problem, with cars alongside horse-drawn wagons), but because the picture of the town hall being built above Mary Anne and Mike Mulligan looks an awful lot like a prison. Or a cage. Or a museum exhibit. Perhaps the latter, and intentionally so.

    There's a lot of text to this story, but two-year-olds can sit through it (prepare to be interrupted by a lot of questions that are hard to answer, though!). Older kids, kindergarten age and older, would get more out of the story but there's lots here for younger ones to enjoy too. Bit too long and involved for the attention span of a kid younger than two though.

  • Diane

    One of the wonderful things about working in a library is that you never know when you're going to see some old friends. Yesterday I found them in the children's section. Every shelf had books that I had loved when I was a kid! It made me smile to see them again.

    But I paused when I found "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel." This is a classic children's book that was originally published in 1939. I think I first read it during a visit to my grandparents' house, and it brought up some bittersweet

    One of the wonderful things about working in a library is that you never know when you're going to see some old friends. Yesterday I found them in the children's section. Every shelf had books that I had loved when I was a kid! It made me smile to see them again.

    But I paused when I found "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel." This is a classic children's book that was originally published in 1939. I think I first read it during a visit to my grandparents' house, and it brought up some bittersweet memories.

    It's the story of a construction worker named Mike, who names his steam shovel Mary Anne. The two work well together, digging canals, making tunnels in the mountains, cutting through hills to make highways. But soon no one wants a steam shovel anymore -- Mike and Mary Anne had been replaced by diesel and electric motors.

    Mike is determined to find work, and he tells the city leaders he can dig the cellar for their new town hall in just one day. They dig fast and a crowd gathers to watch. They dig all day, and when they're done, they find themselves stuck in the hole they've made. A child standing nearby has an idea for how to save Mike and Mary Anne, and the book closes on a happy note.

    The crayon drawings in this book are delightful, and it has an old-school charm that is hard to resist. Highly recommended.

  • Peter Derk

    I just read this one for the very first time today at the request/brute forcing of a co-worker.

    So Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, which has eyelashes TO DIE FOR, dig a big hole, but they get so whipped up in digging the hole that the steam shovel is stuck inside. They come up with a solution of sorts. I won't spoil it here, but let me just say that although it's clever, it's poor practice to rely on cleverness to alleviate the problems of poor planning.

    Mike Mulligan is a classic children's

    I just read this one for the very first time today at the request/brute forcing of a co-worker.

    So Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, which has eyelashes TO DIE FOR, dig a big hole, but they get so whipped up in digging the hole that the steam shovel is stuck inside. They come up with a solution of sorts. I won't spoil it here, but let me just say that although it's clever, it's poor practice to rely on cleverness to alleviate the problems of poor planning.

    Mike Mulligan is a classic children's book character: The Crammer. Remember that story about the grasshopper and the ant? The story where one of them is preparing for winter while the other one is just screwing around? I'm guessing it was the grasshopper who was screwing around. Ants seem pretty industrious while grasshoppers have no occupation other than jumping directly into your face. And some of them can fly, sort of? What the hell?

    Anyway, that grasshopper was the classic Crammer who learns a lesson about not doing all his work at the last minute.

    Mike Mulligan is like that too. He decides that the answer to his problem is to do a week's worth in one day. He's so confident he'll finish that he stakes his entire wage for the job on it.

    It's weird because the book makes it seem that if he pulls off this one job, everything will be great. If he doesn't, he'll be screwed. But it's one day of work. If your financial life rides on one work day, you should probably spend less time steam-shoveling and making steamshovel-related bets and spend more time MAKING MONEY.

    As much as Mike Mulligan is a classic character, there's an even more popular children's character in this book: The Unmitigated Asshole.

    Henry B. Swap is just a real ass the entire time for no apparent reason. He's always sneering, and he balks at the idea of a steam shovel. Some guy shows up to my town and says he'll dig a foundation in a day, what do I care if he uses a steam shovel? He could use enslaved orphans who are using the corpses of other orphans as shovels if he can get it done in 12 hours. That's really none of my business.

    Also, like most UA's in these books, Henry B. Swap comes around at the end. I guess these guys, these unlovable curmudgeons, just need a light miracle to bring them around to being nice for a change. I mean, sure, he spent 35 years drinking himself to oblivion, has been a rude butthole to every person he's ever met, and once he even hit a transient who was trying to hitchhike. And though Henry B. Swap is 70-80% sure that the transient did not survive that impact, all it took was a steam shovel doing an honest day's work to really turn things around for him.

    On the plus, I did find this:

    "But then came a grotesque parade of new shovels..." Classic.

  • Kale Mcnaney

    I remember making my mom read this to me every night before going to bed. A Classic!

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