Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday Time! And we’re talking about one of my favorite childhood books:

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel


Book Info:

Written and Illustrated by: Virginia Lee Burton
Published:  Houghton Mifflin, 1939
Fiction or Non-Fiction: Fictional (I’m yet to meet a talking steam shovel).
For Ages:  3-8 (or 38… or 83… really, any old age)

This Book Teaches:

Loyalty, Hard Work, Determination – OR – less eloquently put: It teaches kids the importance of working their hineys off before spending retirement sitting on them 😉

Teaching Resources:

A Look Inside:

Text from Opening Page

Mike loves his red steam shovel, Mary Anne. Mary Anne loves Mike and loves to work but no one wants an old steam shovel for their jobs anymore. So, when a cellar needs to be dug for the new town hall, Mike and Mary Anne promise they can dig it in just one day! No one believes them, but they show the town that hard work and determination can accomplish the impossible – even without a shiny, new paint job.

Photo_Aug_10_2_23_29_PM.480x480-75I read this book countless times as a child in the 80’s. While the book was old to me then, and is even older to students now – I still think the pencil sketches are timeless – just like the story.

As a kid I got swirled up in the tension of the story. Will they make it? They do, but Virginia doesn’t leave the story at the ‘hip, hip, hooray – you saved the day’ -nope- she takes it a little farther, which is wonderful. My first time hearing the story I was so worried for Mary Anne at the end. How will she get out of the hole she dug? Virginia turning her in to the furnace for the new town hall and showing Mike enjoying his retirement at Mary Anne’s side created an extremely satisfying ending for me.

Take a minute and give it a look. You’ll be glad you did.

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