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5.0 out of 5 stars I Loved This Book!
Like so many other reviewers I have fond memories of reading this book as a child. I fondly recall being a child in the 1970's and of having had this book read to me and when I got older and could read on my own I read it myself and I enjoyed the story of Mike Mulligan and his beloved steam shovel Mary Anne and recall this book having positive messages as well as being an...
Published on July 8 2004 by Calinira

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Discouraging no one cares about rigid gender roles
It's discouraging to me that no one even mentions the extremely rigid gender roles in this book (straight out of the early 1950s). All the fireMEN are MEN, all the policeMEN are MEN, there is no gender neutral language, and worse, all the girls and women are in totally old fashioned roles...
I can't stand it, and the book isn't that great anyway..
Published on Nov. 24 2001 by Susan McGee


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5.0 out of 5 stars I Loved This Book!, July 8 2004
Like so many other reviewers I have fond memories of reading this book as a child. I fondly recall being a child in the 1970's and of having had this book read to me and when I got older and could read on my own I read it myself and I enjoyed the story of Mike Mulligan and his beloved steam shovel Mary Anne and recall this book having positive messages as well as being an entertaining book for children. Mike Mulligan is a steam shovel operator who has named his machine Mary Anne and they have worked very hard for many years digging canels, etc but times have changed and with steam shovels being replaced by electric, gasoline and diesel shovels Mary Anne is thought of as being obsolete but Mike is a very positive and determined man who knows that he and Mary Anne still have what it takes and to prove that he agrees to dig the foundation for a new building but has to do it in one day but he knows that they are up for the challenge. Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel is a wonderful book for children and I think it's good for both boys and girls and I very highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody can do it like a steam shovel, March 27 2004
By 
E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird" (Manhattan, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I tend to bring a lot of picture books into my home. My husband doesn't mind, but neither does he show an inordinate amount of interest in them. Enter "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel". Suddenly my husband was elated by the appearance of this book. "This was the only book we had in my Kindergarten class!", quoth he. After he'd picked through it once more, I had my chance to glance through the story. Admittedly, I did not know of the adventures of Mike Mulligan or trusty Mary Ann until rather late in life. But looking at my hubby's gleeful expression on seeing it again, I know that this is one of those classics that sits in the back of the memory for years and years and years.
Mike Mulligan (Irish, according to the book flap) runs a delightful steam shovel named Mary Ann. The opening spread shows Mike waving at the viewer, while meticulous arrows indicate every lever, cog, and line in Mary Ann's hull. In a rather John Henryish turn of events, Mary Ann is eventually determined to be obsolete in the face of the fancier gasoline, electric and Diesel shovels. Mike refuses to give up his precious steam shovel, however, and a race to prove that Mary Ann can dig as much in a day as a hundred men can dig in a week explodes in a riveting (ho ho) finish.
Books about trucks, construction equipment, and planes is commonplace today. But such modern day classics as "I Stink" owe a great debt to the path that "Mike Mulligan" paved. Here we have a beautifully illustrated (in color at that!) story about two of the best friends in the world. Those kids interested in the technical aspects of steam shovels will be in heaven. And those that just like a rip-roaring yarn about a race against the clock will have a ball as well. Interestingly, author/illustrator Virginia Lee Burton chooses not to close up on Mike Mulligan's face at any point. When we do see him, he's usually viewed at a distance, waving, weeping, and smoking to his heart's content. It's Mary Ann that get the full frontal treatment, and she's a joy. Who could have thought a steam shovel to be so eloquent and emotional? That's the joy of this story and the genius of Virginia Lee Burton's masterwork.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Encougaement Goes A Long Way, March 12 2003
By A Customer
In this story, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel Mary Anne, are the best and fastest diggers, untill the new high tech equiptment come around. Although Mike and Mary Anne are still the best and fastest, they get replaced just because they arn't the "new thing". When they hear about a job in Popperville, they head out to see if they will be able to get it, since they haven't had work in so long. They get the job, but only have one day to get the job done, otherwise, they won't get payed. Fortunalty, there are many people there to watch them work, which makes them work faster and better. Mike and Mary Anne come across a few problems along the way, though. You should read this story and find out what happens.
I think this story is great. It shows that new things arn't always as good as the old. Also, it shows that teamwork can get you where you want to be. In addition to that, it shows that encouagement helps out too. If you have people behind you and cheering you on, you usually do better. I think you should read this book, find out what happens, and learn from it.
~Hope K
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Encougaement Goes A Long Way, March 8 2003
By A Customer
In this story, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel Mary Anne, are the best and fastest diggers, untill the new high tech equiptment come around. Although Mike and Mary Anne are still the best and fastest, they get replaced just because they arn't the "new thing". When they hear about a job in Popperville, they head out to see if they will be able to get it, since they haven't had work in so long. They get the job, but only have one day to get the job done, otherwise, they won't get payed. Fortunalty, there are many people there to watch them work, which makes them work faster and better. Mike and Mary Anne come across a few problems along the way, though. You should read this story and find out what happens.
I think this story is great. It shows that new things arn't always as good as the old. Also, it shows that teamwork can get you where you want to be. In addition to that, it shows that encouagement helps out too. If you have people behind you and cheering you on, you usually do better. I think you should read this book, find out what happens, and learn from it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Winner Never Quits!, May 18 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (Paperback)
Oh how wonderful this book is, in so many different ways. Written in the 40s, its illustrations hark back to an earlier era, when children were allowed to be children, and when the values we taught them were couched in terms that a child could understand. Instead of violence and video games.
Mike Mulligan and his faithful steam shovel Mary Ann have been "downsized," if you will, by the advent of gasoline-powered engines, and other "modern miracles" that have made poor, faithful Mary Ann obsolete overnight. In order to find work, Mike and Mary Ann travel over hill and dale until they come to the small town of Popperville. There, they find that the town mayor is taking bids to dig the basement for a brand-new skyscraper. Mike makes a bid, and is met with laughter. But instead of giving up...INSTEAD OF GIVING UP...he makes a deal. He and Mary Ann will dig the basement in one day. If they don't make it, they won't accept payment.
The valiant steamshovel and the equally valiant Mike set off to prove to the world that they are not obsolete, not worthless...just because they are old, just because they are now different, they still have value! And they dig, and they dig, and they dig. And soon they have attracted a large audience, all of whom are pulling for the team to win, even though it seems impossible.
In the end, Mike and Mary Ann have prevailed. They have dug the basement in one day! But just when they are being celebrated as heroes, a terrible problem arises. Mary Ann cannot get back out of the hole. What is to happen? Was it all for nothing?
The ingenious solution to the problem, and the sheer joy of the solution, warms my heart as much today as it ever did. This is a wonderful way of teaching children to persevere, to glory in their "otherness" and to grab life with both hands. It is a treasure, a classic becaue it deserves to be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Adaptable to any age!!!, May 16 2001
In a world that is constantly changing and growing technologically, the story of Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, Maryann, is a lesson for everyone to learn from. This book is not only symbolic of the industrial revolution that went on in America's history and the dilemmas that were caused because of it, but it also tells a story about teamwork, faith, work ethic, and trust. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is a story about a man and his steam shovel. It starts off in the prime of their working careers and shows how they were the top-notch "diggers" that everyone counted on to do all of their digging. The story continues as they get older and all of the new gas and diesel powered steam shovels end up replacing Mike and the trusty Mary Anne in all of the endeavors. In an effort to prove their reliability and Mary Anne's ability to "do the work of 100 men", Mike and Mary Anne end up working hard to physically conquer their problem. Not only physically do they solve problems, but also in their haste they forget some key aspects to solving their challenge. However with the help of people around, they are able to come up with a solution that is beneficial for everyone around the town. The story of Mike and Mary Anne shows children that if you believe in yourself, you are capable of doing anything. It teaches that you should stick with whatever you are faced with and you work hard, you just may come out on top. The story shows that it isn't always the biggest and newest that can complete the job fastest and best, but that even the smallest and "not so new" can work hard and measure up to the expectations put forth by technology and society. The illustrations in this book are great. At first glance they may seem dull to the eye, but the dull color schemes and the sharpness of the crayon illustrations make you focus on the actions within the pictures. The pictures thoroughly correspond to the story and its content, which makes it easier for children to follow along. The dull gray coloring of the pictures is indicative of the nature of the industry, being so cold and harsh, yet some might suggest that the brighter tones that are thrown in a little bit suggest that there is still hope for the underdog. The illustrations clearly depict the mood of the story, and show the different situations that Mike and Mary Anne run into. I found that with each event as the plot thickens, so to speak, the pictures follow along very well keeping the child who can't read attentive to what is going on, and preventing confusion with what is going on in the story. The fact that the steam shovel (Mary Anne,) is portrayed as a female seems to be a welcome part of children's literature that does not follow the stereotypes that are expected in books about "trucks" and "boy stuff." It may be suggested that the author intended on showing a female character to be able to handle the work that is put forth as sort of a statement against stereotypes. The plot of this story, from my experience, is very appealing to children. In the experiences I have with my younger siblings, it is more appealing to boys than girls, due to the "steam shovel" on the cover and in the storyline. The girls that I have suggested reading this story to, have been more attracted to books that were more aimed at the young female group of readers. The theme of this book is both helpful in teaching lessons, and also in challenging the thoughts that are presented each day with the growth of technology in our world. This book helps the children to question whether or not they can set out to do something that is thought to be "impossible" and actually accomplish it, is a tremendous lesson to teach children. The language and style are very appropriate for the audience of children that the author is aimed at in that the word choice is simple enough yet also explanative as well. It does not seem to be oversimplified and still shows all of the lessons in a way that is not oversimplified, yet not too complex either. The flow of this book is excellent and seems to keep the audience of 3-6 year olds attentive and lets them follow along easily enough to understand what is going on, and possibly learn a lesson while being entertained. I would recommend this book for a child of any age. The depth and specificity of the lessons in the story can be adapted to a child of any age. Dependent on the child and their depth of understanding, you can take the story at its face value for younger children, or delve deeper into the symbolism with older children.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for us Tom Boys, May 15 2001
As a child and even now as an adult I am a die hard Tom Boy. This is the book that along with Toot the tugboat, made me beg my Dad to stop the car so we could watch construction sites. And when driving over the Sierras in California or Cascade mountains in Washington state or Rockies in Montana would squeel with delighy and beg and beg my parents to at least slow down so I could watch the steam shovels and big CATS move massive amounts of earth. And how excited I was when we returned thru the areas, weeks or months later and saw all the progress that had been made.
When my parents would read the book to me and later at age six when I could read it myself, I could almost hear the loud sounds as Mike shifted the gears, and see the smoke come out of the exhaust. And smell the dust from each load of earth he moved.
Guess this is what also made the book so cool. It made a kids senses come alive. Sometimes I wonder if parents realize that this is what makes a GREAT book. The ability of the author to make the kid hearing/reading the story, feel as if they were Mike. And the fact that the child would "see" "smell" "hear" the story. And I am so happy that it is now my grandchildren who LOVE this classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How I dreaded those nights............, Aug. 3 2000
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 Mulligan and Mary Anne, his steam shovel, are becoming outdated. They used to be busy in the big city, making basements for big buildings. But as always happens, something better - faster, more efficient gas, electric and Diesel shovels - is replacing them.
Mike Mulligan knows they still have value. He's always told people that Mary Anne could dig as much in a day as a hundred men could dig in a week, though he's never been quite sure this is true.
To find work, he ventures into the country to the town of Popperville, where a new Town Hall is being built. Mike promises to build the cellar in just one day ("What!" said Henry B. Swap. "Dig a cellar in just one day! It would take a hundred men at least a week to dig the cellar for our new town hall." ) Henry and the townpeople are swayed when Mike promises that "If we can't do it, you won't have to pay."
The citizens of Bangerville and Bopperville, Kipperville and Kopperville plus all the people from Popperville come out to watch Mike and Mary Anne work hard under the hot sun. They finish the job as the sun sets, just in the nick of time.
One small boy has been watching them, and he asks a really good question - "How are they going to get out?" Mike was in such a hurry, he forgot to make a way to get Mary Anne out of the cellar.
Everyone tries to think of a solution, but it's that astute little boy who comes up with the best one. They decide to keep the Steam Shovel in the cellar, and build the town hall over them. Mike Mulligan can be the janitor, the steam shovel will keep the building warm in the winter, they won't have to buy a new furnace (Henry B. Swap really likes this frugal thought!) and everyone is happy.
The kids who read it especially like looking at all the tiny details in the pictures, but I think they especially like the small boy finding the solution that none of the adults can figure out.
In retrospect, I suppose it really wasn't that awful to have to read it again and again and again. I've got the original hardcover in hand, waiting for the grandkids!
Definitely worth buying the hardcover edition!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Henry B. Swap learns a lesson, Oct. 26 1999
Few of us have ever seen a steam shovel in action, even we who had this great story read to us the first time around, back in '39. The diesel shovel digging out the neighbor's cellar down the street just didn't have the personality of Mary Anne and the operators didn't seem to have the determination of Mike Mulligan, though they always left a cellar ramp clear so they could get out when they were done.
But the tension in this story builds as the sun gets high in the sky and goes down so fast, as the dirt flies, the townfolks cheer and the job gets done only to have Henry B. Swap smile in his "rather mean way" when it is discovered that no exit was dug for Mary Anne to get out of the hole. Then "the little boy," who might have been me, or might have been my daughter when I read the story to her, or my grandson when I read the story to him, comes up with the idea that makes Ol' Henry B. Swap "smile in a way that wasn't quite so mean."
And finally, in semi-retirement, Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne don't have to compete any longer with the new-fangled machines and Henry B. Swap is there, "smiling in a way that isn't mean at all." There in Poppervile they have the contentment in aging that is worth dreaming about.
One of the Great Books!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic story with warm, active pictures, May 4 2000
The cover of this book is the same as my old, dog-eared copy from my childhood 30 years ago. A Caldecott Award winner, the pictures drive the tale as much as the plot. An excellent book from cover-to-cover.
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.
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 Dcklings" and "Where the Wild Things Are."
Anthony Trendl
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Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton (Paperback - Oct. 12 1977)
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