by Lee Virginia Burton

Paperback, 1980



Call number




Scholastic (1980)


Mike Mulligan proves that, although dated, his steam shovel is still useful.

User reviews

LibraryThing member HankIII
A children's book that still kicks major ass well into adulthood!
LibraryThing member villemezbrown
What an odd story about obsolescence and repurposing! Riffing off the legend of John Henry, a steam shovel operator wagers that he can completely dig a building foundation in a day with his outdated equipment or he won't get paid. Somehow the whole town gets caught up in this race against time and
Show More
circle the growing hole to watch.

The cadence of the story is weird, but lends itself to some equally weird experimentation when reading it aloud. Today I tried reading the whole thing as a boxing announcer. The anthropomorphized face on the steam shovel seems out of place and unnecessary, but sure, why not.

For me, the best part is the asterisk near the end of the story where the author acknowledges the little boy next door who came up with an ending when she literally wrote herself into a corner. How candid and considerate.
Show Less
LibraryThing member dchaves
Ah - the boys book. Men and their tools. Makes me think of Thomas the tank engine.
LibraryThing member relientkatie
Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Ann, have been working together for years, digging canals for boats and deep cellars for tall buildings. But now that gasoline-powered and electric shovels can do the same ammount of work in half the time of a steam shovel, no one wants to hire Mike and
Show More
Mary. They look for work in the town of Popperville, where they're challenged to dig the cellar for the new town hall in just one day.
The overarching moral of "Mike Mulligan" is that just because something is old doesn't mean it's obsolete, and it also includes positive messages about loyalty, hard work and perseverance - all wrapped up in an interesting story that's never preachy or heavy-handed.
I'd recommend this book for pre-school-age children up to first grade. It's an especially good choice for kids who like trucks and machines.
Show Less
LibraryThing member gaylagoff
Great Book for young children. It is one of Amy's favorites.
LibraryThing member Othemts
I read this book in the waiting room during pediatrician visits as a kid. I always wondered by Mike Mulligan never left the basement. Dedication to Mary Anne is one thing, but he could have gone out for a pizza or something. One of those mysteries along with why did Charlie's wife never throw in 5
Show More
cents with the sandwiches.
Show Less
LibraryThing member tshrum06
This is a good example of historical fiction. As far as I know, Mike is not a real person, so it focuses on historical times (the time when steam engines still were around but were becoming more and more obsolete), but not on a true person. It accurately portrays the people and happenings of that
Show More
Age Appropriateness: primary, intermediate
Media: pencil
Show Less
LibraryThing member seoulful
Another childhood classic originally published in 1939 and now being reprinted. Here children are taught that hard work and persistence will win the day. We also learn that with the steam shovels being replaced by gasoline powered shovels that perhaps the tried and true is not completely obsolete
Show More
despite the new inventions. An exciting story for children as Mike and his steam shovel try to dig a cellar in one day and the whole town becomes involved in cheering them on.
Show Less
LibraryThing member TorrieM
This is the story of a steam shovel that was not needed anymore. As times changed bigger and better equipment was made. The town all work together to build a new town hall and Mary Anne and Mike Mulligan had a great job after all. Mary Anne would be the furnace and Mike would dig the cellar and be
Show More
the janitor. This book just shows how times have changed and how technology changes. I would use this in K-2nd grade classes to teach about working together and change.
Show Less
LibraryThing member awiltenburg
This story is about a pair of front loaders that dug so well but didnt leave a way out. A passerby noticed how well they had dug ad tried to repurpose them. Grades 2-3.
LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
This is one of those classic children's stories that you're sure to have heard of. Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel did wonderfully- until the fancy new diesel shovels moved in and they couldn't get any work. They searched everywhere until finally they dug the foundation for a town-hall ultra
Show More
fast, and the steam shovel got stuck down there. It was turned into a furnace and Mike became the janitor, and neither were out of work again.
Show Less
LibraryThing member savannah.julian
This is the story of a steam shovel that was no longer needed because the times were changing and bigger and better equipment was being made. Mary Anne and Mike Mulligan find them selves out of work until the people of a small town challenge them to dig the cellar of their new town hall in one day.
Show More
In the effort to meet the challenge Mike and his steam shovel forget to dig a ramp out. Luckily a citizens suggestion that Mary Anne could be the new furnace and Mike could be the building janitor.
Show Less
LibraryThing member IEliasson
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is truly an archetypal picture book: the colorful illustrations are drawn in a child appealing style, and the text and illustrations mingle visuals and prose fluently. The two main characters are devoted friends who demonstrate worthy virtues such as loyalty,
Show More
perseverance, and flexibility. The story ends and all is good with the world and the characters--a classic story that children will love for decades to come.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Aridy
Nice tale about friendship, between a man and his steam shovel. Faced with the inevitable technological progress that is making his steam shovel Mary Ann obsolete, these two and a very smart little boy figure out a way to keep Mary Ann useful and for Mike to still have a job with his friend.
LibraryThing member stgayde
This is a heartwarming tale about the friendship and bond between a man and his steam shovel. As time moves on and technology improves, there is little place for Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel. They fight to maintain their place and prove that they are still just as good. In an attempt to do
Show More
so, Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel dig a basement for a building so quickly that they fail to leave a ramp to exit out of. While they do prove that they in fact can dig a basement in less than a day, the steam shovel is now trapped inside with no way to get out. Mike Mulligan cannot bear to leave his friend behind. Thus, the steam shovel is transformed into the belly for the building's furnace and Mike Mulligan remains with him as the furnace inspector.
Show Less
LibraryThing member francescadefreitas
Liam loves this! The story of Mike and his beloved steam shovel is a little long for him at one and a half, and the story of Mary Ann being ousted by more modern machines is over his head, but he took to Mike right away, and has been asking for it a lot.
LibraryThing member haldemac
One of my favorite childhood picture books. A story about friendship and innovation. Mike and his steam shovel save the day!
(Gr. K+)
LibraryThing member DanieXJ
If I could give this more than five stars, I would. It is a heartwarming and amazing story on multiple levels. Shows friendship, and caring, and it even shows what it is to be a community, which, these days, can be hard to find.
LibraryThing member RachelPeterson
This is a heartwarming tale about Mike and his Steam Shovel, technology advances and mike has no use for his beloved steam shovel mary ann but they find a way to keep her around! I would read this to any grade K+, its great for learning about friendship!
LibraryThing member robinlbrooks
This book is about Mary Anne, Mike's steam shovel and kind of girlfriend, doing more work than either one hundred men and modern technology. The "moral" is that we should keep using antiquated outdated technology because it is "better" and it has feelings, while new things are cold and mechanical.
Show More
I liked the illustrations, I liked the vocabulary building, like showing canals being built, because that really helped the little girl who I was reading it with (who I babysit) understand new words and how certain things are made. I didn't like that the focus was on a white guy and all the characters were white.
Show Less
LibraryThing member sharonstrickland
Another heart warming story that should be inspiring to children. Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Anne have all the work they can handel, digging canals, cutting roads through mountains, cleared the way for long highways, and much more. Mike insisted that his steam shovel could did as much
Show More
in a day as 100 men could in a week. When the steam shovel is replaced by the new gas shovels, Mike and Mary Anne are put out of work in the city, so they travel to a little country town to find work digging a cellar for the new town hall.
Show Less
LibraryThing member cjfox73
Children will love the victorious Mike and Mary Anne who show their true worth despite the world moving in a different direction. Teaches a good lesson about valuing things that are older and that "newer" doesn't always mean better.
LibraryThing member LDobson
This classic tale of Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Anne, is an encouraging story about believing in yourself and accomplishing what you set your mind to do. Even though the world around him is changing with the invention of bigger, better shovels, Mike sets out to prove that Mary Anne is
Show More
just as good as the rest. This story is wonderful for all ages but specifically great for ages 4-8.
Show Less
LibraryThing member empress8411
I remember this book from childhood and was VERY excited to find a pristine copy at a local thrift store. It's a classic from ages ago, but even modern kids will enjoy Mike and his steam shovel!
LibraryThing member LizinHillsdale
A classic. Mike Mulligan operates a steam shovel named "Mary Ann". When gasoline and diesel shovels start taking all the work in the city, Mike drives his shovel to a small town and offers to dig the foundation for their new town hall "in just one day". He digs "so fast and so hard" that he forgets
Show More
to leave a way out! Luckily the townspeople offer to keep Mary Ann as the furnace for the new town hall.
Show Less


Original publication date



059032487X / 9780590324878

Similar in this library

Page: 0.6126 seconds