Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel: Board Book Edition

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel: Board Book Edition

Virginia Lee Burton
Board Book
For ages 4 to 6
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007   ISBN: 0618840192

Mike Mulligan has a red steam shovel whose name is Mary Anne. Mary Anne and Mike have been working together for years, and they have worked on all kinds of projects including canals, highways, and cellars for skyscrapers. However, nowadays new electric and diesel motor shovels are being used for construction work, and no one wants to use steam shovels any more. Poor Mary Anne and Mike are very sad, and they are worried about their future What on earth are they going to do?

Then Mike reads that the town of Popperville is going to build a new town hall. He knows that the hall will need a basement, and he decides that he will offer his and Mary Anne’s services to do the digging.

The two friends go to Popperville, and when they get there Mike says that he and Mary Anne will dig the basement for the town hall in just one day. Can Mike and Mary Anne keep this promise?

This picture book was first published in 1967, and it has lost none of its charm. It still has the ability to make children cheer for the red steam shovel who has a big heart, and for her driver who loves her far too much to let her get broken up for scrap. Wonderful drawings, and the perfect solution to a sticky problem perfectly compliment a delightful story. Best of all children discover that even when people – and steam shovels – are past their prime, they still have a great deal to offer us all.