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Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Paperback – October 12, 1977
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Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Anne make quite a team. The inseparable duo digs the great canals for the big boats to travel through, cuts through the large mountains so trains can pass, and hollows out the deep cellars for the great skyscrapers in the city. But the introduction of gasoline, electric, and diesel shovels means big trouble for Mike and Mary Anne. No one wants an old-fashioned steam shovel like Mary Anne when a modern shovel can do the digging in half the time! Forced to travel far out of the city to look for work, Mike and Mary Anne find themselves in the little town of Popperville. Mike and Mary Anne make a bid to dig the cellar for the new town hall, promising the town that if they can't dig the cellar in just one day they'll accept no payment for the job. Will Mike and Mary Anne be able to complete the job? The whole town of Popperville turns out to watch. Virginia Lee Burton, author of such classic children's books as The Little House and Katy and the Big Snow, offers a touching portrait of love and dedication while commenting on the modernization that continuously shapes our lives. Hamilton's wonderful crayon drawings bring Mike and the indomitable Mary Anne to life. (Ages 3 to 6)
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3-This longtime children's favorite, first published in 1939, has never lost its appeal. Now, it has been translated into simple, easily understood Spanish. After working together for many years, Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Anne, are told that their services are no longer needed. Not one to give up easily, Mike proposes that he and Mary Anne will excavate the basement for the new town hall in only one day. The whole town gathers around the work site to see how this indomitable pair will fare in their race against time. The brightly colored, charming crayon drawings add to the cheerfulness of presentation.
Tania Colmant-Donabedian, Queens Borough Public Library, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
As soon as you open this book, the old-fashioned illustrations take you back to what was a simpler time, but also an extremely stressful time - the end of the longest and most far-reaching economic downturn in our nation's history (at its lowest point, 13-15 million Americans were out of work, close to half of the banks had failed, a time when bread lines and soup kitchens were the norm, with foreclosures and repossessions leading to rising numbers of homeless as people lost their jobs - just as Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel named Mary Anne do, as steam shovels are quickly being replaced by power shovels. The deep hole Mike and Mary Anne find themselves in with no way out feels reflective of that period. It was a time when loyalty, trust, faith and ingenuity was about all you had to get by on, and the deep friendship between Mike and Mary Anne is a perfect example of that. 1939 was the year American industry shifted into high gear with WW II, when pulling together to support the troops was everything, including re-purposing of various items for new usages... just as Mary Anne becomes re-purposed as a furnace for a new town hall, for which Mike becomes the janitor - still together through it all. It was interesting to discover that Mary Anne's name was based on the Marion, Ohio's Marion Steam Shovel Company, re-named the Marion Power Shovel Company after the change from steam to diesel power within the industry had taken hold. (Sadly, after being sold, spun off, and then integrated into the product line of a long time rival, the Marion facility was closed.)
This 75th Anniversary edition is a beautiful book (with instructions on how to download a free audiobook on the first page)... some of the pages are pretty wordy, so I don't know that it would hold the attention of a 2 year old, but I think our 4-1/2 year old grandson will do fine with it - the words are very simple, and are displayed in interesting configurations (many of the pages have the lines of words in a slanted fashion, which sort of reminds me of a big load of words Mary Anne might lift!), and though the imprinted $17.99 price on the cover seems a bit hefty for a 44-page book, this is one of the true classics (which the National Education Association places among the "Teachers' Top 100 Books") - one we'll be happy to place into the hands of our grandchildren. My favorite thing about the story is the sense of dignity and respect with which Mike and Mary Anne are treated in the end, after all of their years of hard work. If only all American workers could look forward to the same treatment!
The book came in almost new condition. I was expecting more signs of use but this one was great.
This is an old classic book from the late 1930's It stars Mike Mulligan and the real star of the show the steam shovel heroine.
I read this book eons ago and remembered it was one of my favorites.... so with a new grand daughter and the book having a female as the heroine I just had to get it.
I read it to her the other day. Of course she in just 5 months old so I think I got far more out of it.......
A great book......a little wordy at times but that's ok......just talk faster.....as long as you can get away with it.
The ending is what I love.
Mike and Mary Anne save the day and show them all that steam power is not dead......
The main thing that drew me to this book though was that she built the basement for the school and still was down there giving us all heat.
I grew up where it was oh so cold so I remember thinking that I wanted to go into the basement to see Mary Anne.
This was my favorite book as a child, apparently, and I was so surprised to see it again that I bought another copy for myself as an adult. It is such an awesome book for teaching work ethic and empathy, and the writing offers more challenge than a lot of the books of today that I've seen parents buy for their children recently.
And it's perfect for budding engineers, motor heads, etc!
Re-reading it now brings back great memories and fascination of how Mike Mulligan and his beloved steam shovel worked hard to accomplish a fantastic task. Whenever people watched them dig, they always worked a little better and a little faster.
Although it is somewhat dated, and even has Mike smoking at the end (you'd never see a responsible publisher do that today), it holds on to five stars.
A modern John Henry, Mike faces the challenge of new technology. Undaunted, like the famous hammer-driving tall tale hero, he struggles to meet the task. Can he dig a hole faster than the new machine? Can he and his mighty red-metal friend do it by the end of the day?
A great story of perseverence and hard work, I fully recommend "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel." Place it on your shelf next to "Make Way for Ducklings" and "Where the Wild Things Are."