Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” as Want to Read:
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  52,115 ratings  ·  700 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 pr ...more
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published September 9th 1939 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published September 9th 1938)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Aiden Heavilin The various partisan viewpoints on "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" are a sadly neglected yet highly important aspect of political science.…moreThe various partisan viewpoints on "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" are a sadly neglected yet highly important aspect of political science.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  52,115 ratings  ·  700 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
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.
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 Mulliga
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”
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
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
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Dopest book ever. Better than 50 shades or potter. Will read every day. 10/10
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.) ...more
Kale Mcnaney
I remember making my mom read this to me every night before going to bed. A Classic!
Clay Davis
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful children's book with a hint of steampunk. I would like it made into a movie as the Peanuts and Dr. Seuss stories were. ...more
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Virginia Lee Burton is always a favorite.
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
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 i
Laura (Book Scrounger)
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, a
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a good old book. I had wondered if this was a true story or not. Google helped me. Turns out the author had written herself into a corner with Mulligan stuck in the hole, and was having dinner with some friends and read the unfinished story to their children. One of the children suggested she end it by having the steam shovel become the furnace for the town hall. Hence the child in the story getting credit of the suggestion.
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. ...more
Jan 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Mister Jones
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A children's book that still kicks major ass well into adulthood! ...more
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.
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 m ...more
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
Katie Fitzgerald
Also read in childhood.

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

Read at Preschool Story Time on 10/12/12: http://storytimesecrets.blogspot.com/...

Read at the Psychiatric Institute on 5/13/13: http://storytimesecrets.blogspot.com/...
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.
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. I think it's a good story about steam shovels. - G, age 6

It was awesome. - R, age 3
Raven Black
Certainly, a book of the time. Mature but not over kids heads
Featured in grandma reads session.

I love all of Virginia Lee Burton's books! Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel was published in 1939 and was not just one of my favorites, it was one of my Dad's when he was a tot! Burton wrote the story and with her handy crayons did the illustrations also. Talented lady.

Others of hers that are less well known are: Maybelle (a cable car); The Little House; Life Story (the story of life on earth from its beginning up to now - as understood by VL Burton); Choo Cho
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, t ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: pic-books, classics
If I rated this based on my childhood memories, this would merit one or two stars. Books that focused on machinery (including trains) never had any appeal to me. I would bet that I didn't like the eyes on Mary Ann's scoop. (I didn't like animals that dressed up and acted like humans, so I'm sure the eyes bothered me.)

I do know that I didn't like the destruction -- this machine ruined hills and meadows. That was as painful to me as a child as it is now. And, I'm sure it seemed silly to me that a
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
care in doing work well 1 1 May 16, 2020 12:20PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Blueberries for Sal
  • The Story of Ferdinand
  • Make Way for Ducklings
  • The Story About Ping
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
  • Stone Soup
  • Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business
  • Bread and Jam for Frances
  • Strega Nona
  • Millions of Cats
  • Harry the Dirty Dog
  • The Mitten
  • Freight Train
  • The Story of Babar (Babar, #1)
  • The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
  • The Snowy Day (Peter, #1)
  • The Little Engine That Could
  • The Carrot Seed
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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.


Related Articles

  Mateo Askaripour is a Brooklyn-based writer whose first novel, Black Buck—which Colson Whitehead calls a “mesmerizing novel, executing a high...
5 likes · 0 comments