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Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
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Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  48,338 ratings  ·  609 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published September 9th 1939 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published September 9th 1938)
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Aiden Heavilin The various partisan viewpoints on "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" are a sadly neglected yet highly important aspect of political science.

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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  48,338 ratings  ·  609 reviews

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May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
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
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, favorites
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.
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”
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Peter Derk
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children of all ages!
Shelves: own, kiddy-lit
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!
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Dopest book ever. Better than 50 shades or potter. Will read every day. 10/10
Kale Mcnaney
I remember making my mom read this to me every night before going to bed. A Classic!
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.)
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.

Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s, this book got a lot of attention at schools and libraries. It was used as a read-aloud by teachers who wanted to show us that hard work gets you what you want, and of course Mike had to go to smalltown USA to find a good home for himself and his shovel. Burton's books also get a passing reference in Beezus and Ramona; not by title, but if you've read them you recognise the reference.

Re-reading it today, I still love the illustrations and the way the text
Luisa Knight
I have several nephews and as I turned each page in the book, my delight grew at the thought of them reading this wonderful story! It's just the right type of book to capture a little boy's attention - it has machinery, it has a competition and it has a victor.

First published in 1939, it possess all the charm of its time! I love the illustrations too! This is definitely worth owning. Ages 4+

Cleanliness: a man smokes a pipe.

**Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer
Laura (Book Scrounger)
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 00-pre-k, reds, owned
I didn't read this book as a child, so I don't have any sentimentality attached to it, unlike many others. I liked it well enough -- I always assumed it must be a bit dated by now, long after the age of steam shovels, but I see that was actually a major theme of the book (obsolescence), and I imagine that's one thing that's helped it endure -- capturing the feeling of loss that can come when an item we feel attached to is becoming obsolete, which happens in any era.

I enjoyed the illustrations,
Jim Gorman
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
This is one of my favorite authors of children's books. i have read the 4 that I know about to both my kids many times over the years. The art is nice and simple, the story as well. I don't know what it is about Mike Mulligan and Marry Ann, but I love them both. I also like to look into the illustrations for little hidden details, signs and tiny people in the background.
Jan 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Shelves: childrens, 2009
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.
John Yelverton
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books when I was growing up, and it was also one of the saddest stories I read growing up too.
Mister Jones
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Boy, does this bring back memories! I was born in 1937, just two years before this book was published, and I remember the title and my Grandmother reading it to me. I can’t say I remembered the story, though; so it was good to read it again. It is a delightful story of cooperation, support of others, and there is a hint of Dr. Seuss’s writing (even before he began writing!). As I’ve written in other reviews, I owe my love of books and reading to my Grandmother who lived with us. Every day before ...more
Raven Black
Certainly, a book of the time. Mature but not over kids heads
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 4 - 8 year olds, lovers of mighty machines
Not sure it it's a "modern" classic, because many things in it will honestly not look very modern to your 4 year old, but it's definitely a classic. And what little boy doesn't hold a fascination for any type of construction machine/vehicle. So, my little boy asked me to read the story about the Steam Shovel, the anthropomorphic Mary Ann. The first time I read it, while it's a sweet story, I was a little bummed myself about the ending, and felt somewhat let down. As I read it again, it started ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Also read in childhood.

Read during a kindergarten class visit on 10/12/12:

Read at Preschool Story Time on 10/12/12:

Read at the Psychiatric Institute on 5/13/13:
Shows great problem solving. I have never been very interested in cars, trucks, steam shovels or other machines. But this is a perfect book for a little boy or girl who loves them.
Briarwood Hollow
I loved it. I think it's a good story about steam shovels. - G, age 6

It was awesome. - R, age 3
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I've become unexpectedly familiar with the early-reader construction site genre. I do not have the handyman's gene, nor am I particularly mechanically inclined. My 4-year-old son, however, loves all things relating to building... building anything, taking anything apart, fixing anything. He has since his earliest days. It's innate. So he was happy to sit through Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, but I think I found it a bit more engaging than he did. As far as books about excavators go (yes, ...more
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
As of this review, the book is 80 years old! It's saddening to me to see this book doesn't get discussed much today as a children's book, because damn, this book is a classic. Great illustrations, a wonderful story, and a great way to capture the spirit of the era (late 1930's) I can not recommend this enough to share this book with a child - whether your own or someone else's.

Natalie Wenzel
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was probably younger than L is now the first time I heard this classic story.
I was excited to share this with Alistair and he liked it!
Sep 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought this book was charming but my kids had no patience or interest in it, so I only gave it 3 stars
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Still great, and it makes me think about Ramona. How DID Mike go to the bathroom, tho
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An old classic. Mike Mulligan has a steam shovel named Mary Ann. Together they dig foundations, cellars and level ground all over the city and country for buildings and rail roads.

But then the gas and electric come along and Mary Ann is not needed anymore. Mike cannot bear to put her in the junk yard with the rest.

They find a town that needs a new town hall. Mike tells the man in charge that Mary Ann can do the job and if they don't do it by sun down they'll do it for free. The bet is on.

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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.