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Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Book & CD

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  33,393 ratings  ·  386 reviews
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, have a very important job. They dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for big city skyscrapers the very symbol of modern industrial America. But with progre ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published October 18th 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published September 9th 1938)
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Ronyell
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” i
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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
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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
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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.)
John Yelverton
One of my favorite books when I was growing up, and it was also one of the saddest stories I read growing up too.
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
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Kale Mcnaney
I remember making my mom read this to me every night before going to bed. A Classic!
Carriek
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mitchell
This was an okay book. It was not one I grew up on or raised my kids with. I like that it is a story about progress and invention that also show there are winners and losers. But even though it came out allright-ish in the end, I didn't appreciate the ending. Art was okay, writing could have been a little better.
Philip
This was one of my favorites as a kid. I'm not sure if that's because I liked it so much, or because this is a book my dad read to me a lot.

I think this must have been one of my dad's favorite books as a kid. It looks like the copy right is 1939. My dad was born in '41. Don't tell anyone.

Also, he built us a steam shovel. Well, it was made of wood, and didn't use steam... But, it was really cool.

Either way, I still liked this book a lot. Enough to push it on my two daughters. : ) I think they lik
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Russell
One of the more dark and twisted books I've read. Obsolescence, falling from grace, unemployment, settling for underemployment, and more are tackled by this classic. It's hard to do this book justice, as so many people have reviewed it over the years far better than I ever could.

(view spoiler)
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Aphie
By today's standards for picture books. This is WORDY. I was seriously worried my preschoolers wouldn't sit still for it.
But I every time I bring it out they sit there, with nary a twitch, spellbound. Which speaks to the magic of an unfortunately laid-out (in the Olden Days apparently nobody worried about picture book sentences running over the turned page), tradition Golden-Book-style illustrated picture book about outdated technology and village life today's kids have never seen (if any ever
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Ethelen V.

Burton, V. L., Burton, V. L., & Houghton Mifflin Company (1939). Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel. Boston, NY: Houghton Mifflin Co.



Mike Mulligan and steam shovel, Mary Anne, have lived a busy and productive life. They have dug out canals for boats, cellars for skyscrapers, and mountains passes for trains. Unfortunately, modern technology, the invention of the gas/diesel engines are putting Mike and Mary Anne out of work. New and improved equipment are moving faster and more efficiently. F
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Hannah
Mike Mulligan and his beloved steam shovel are being out-shoveled by new fangled engines, and find themselves feeling pretty unwanted. Mike begins to question his confidence in the steam shovel, but when he hears that a new town hall is being built out in the country he declares they can dig the basement in just one day!
This book was a great way to introduce concepts like self confidence (what made Mike feel like he wasn't so good anymore? What made him feel confident again? When did Mike and h
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Kimber
This is a trimmed down version of my review, to view the full review visit The Book Ramble.

Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Ann, have helped to dig up some important things, from canals to skyscrapers, but nowadays they're out of date and a little old fashioned because of all the new gas and electric shovels. They go in search of new work and wind up helping out a little town in need of work.

I found this book enjoyable. I wasn't a huge fan of the illustrations, and I also found the story
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Marysia
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel was one of my favorite books as a child. I think mainly because I enjoyed stories about alive/talking boats, cars, etc. But I re-read it recently when my parents were sorting through my childhood stuff and figuring out what to donate and, as an adult, I saw a new angle to this book. The sadness of becoming obsolete, I think, wasn't quite a concept I grasped as a child. In addition, with the current woes Seattle is having with our tunnel digger "Bertha", as well ...more
Rehema Payne
This is another book that would be good for a professional day. It illustrates what jobs a steam shovel does. It shows that steam shovels are a part of other tools that complete a job. It can help children learn to play together or as a team.
Kelsey
Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel work hard and dig quickly, but they are replaced by new technology. Mike and Mary Anne decide to dig the cellar of the town hall in Popperville to prove their worth. They dig the cellar in just one day, defying a bet made by Henry B. Swap. They dig so fast that they forget to leave a way out. Everyone panics, but a young boy think that the town should build the hall over Mary Anne and Mike. Mary Anne can be the furnace and Mike can be the janitor. Everyone agre ...more
Dolly
Jan 16, 2009 Dolly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Shelves: 2009, childrens
This was an interesting story with an odd, but touching ending. Our girls enjoyed that the steam shovel has "eyes," and seems to be alive, but didn't understand why they'd build the town hall around her. Cute story overall.
Heather
This is a great story of finding your place in the world. My kids loved the pictures and cheered right along with all the townspeople.

We've read this book several times. It's one we'll read again I'm sure.
Destiny Dawn Long
Mike Mulligan loves his steam shovel, Mary Anne. And they dig all sorts of things together. Then, a new generation of gasoline, electric, and diesel shovels arrive on the scene and Mary Anne is deemed obsolete. Mike Mulligan refuses to give up his beloved steam shovel, though, and finally finds work in a small town, which is building a new town hall. Mike Mulligan takes a gamble and says that he can dig the whole basement in one day. If he doesn't, then he won't get paid.

I love the message of h
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Susie
My students love it just as much as Hank did when he was a little boy. In fact one of my volunteers said that I can read aloud as we'll as Captain Kangaroo! How sweet is that?
Aleisa
It's not that I had forgotten this gem but, well--yeah. I guess I had. I've been so consumed with identifying the best of the avalanche of new children's lit that I hadn't thought much about some of the classics. This last week has found me doing inventory and remembering some of my favorites from both my childhood and my older children's childhood. So much of what is new pales in comparison to authors like Burton, Sendak, Seuss, Mayer, Polacco, the Hobans... Virginia Lee Burton is an author who ...more
Melissa Frentsos
Mixed feelings on this one. Even though it's not the book's message and it's a metaphor for friendship and working hard together, I personally have trouble getting past the imagery of a steam shovel being so beloved by a person... Also, Mike Mulligan really shouldn't have boasted that he and his shovel could do the work required in a single day when he really didn't know if they could (even though in the end, they did.) That being said I do kinda like the book's message of friendship, hard work, ...more
Mister Jones
Mar 23, 2008 Mister Jones rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults, children, artists, construction workers, doctors, teachers, well hell anybody
Recommended to Mister Jones by: My parents, of course
A children's book that still kicks major ass well into adulthood!
Inspired Kathy
Another book from my childhood that I read to my own kids.
Bruce
One of my favorite books of all time!
Betsy
Reviewed first at Redeemed Reader

Beloved Mike Mulligan and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, turn 75 years old this year, and, rather than showing their age, Mike and Mary Anne continue to delight new readers. The famous duo demonstrates that friendship, hard work, and a cheerful attitude ensure that no one is obsolete. Mary Anne’s fellow steam shovels are quickly being relegated to junk yards as progress and gas and diesel engines take over; still, Mike boldly maintains that Mary Anne can “di
...more
Jiaying
This story was the longest, drawn out childhood story I could remember, but it was one of the most memorable as well. So here's the plot in fine detail:

There's a guy named Mike Mulligan and he has a red steam shovel who's name is Mary Anne.
Then- unfortunately- (me being a nature enthusiast and all) the book talks about how they destroyed nature together to make a bunch of highways, landing fields, train tracks, basement cellars, and moats- which is indeed the sad truth about the human inhabitan
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Michael
Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne dig themselves in a hole of their making, but now they must get out to collect their payment. With Mrs. McGillicuddy, Henry B. Swap, the town constable, the milkman, the postman, the fire department, the school, even with the townspeople from surrounding towns, none having any idea on how to help Mike and Mary Anne extract themselves from their predicament, a little boy suddenly has a good idea, and his idea satisfies all. You will need to read the book to see how it ...more
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Virginia Lee Burton was an American illustrator and children's book author. Burton produced seven self-illustrated children's books. She married Boston Museum school sculptor, George Demetrios, with whom she had two sons and lived in Folly Cove, Gloucester. She died at 59.

More about Virginia Lee Burton...
The Little House Katy and the Big Snow Mike Mulligan and More: A Virginia Lee Burton Treasury Choo Choo Maybelle the Cable Car

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