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- author Jackie French

Thursday 13 September 2012

Review: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

In this timeless classic, Virginia Lee Burton brings personality and character to steam-operated machines that are gradually being replaced with newer technology. 

Mike Mulligan is the proud owner of Mary Ann, a beautiful red steam shovel. They’ve enjoyed many years of life and work as a team. They’ve filled in ditches together, dug canals together, and excavated cellars for towering buildings together. 

But with the progression of technology has come disrespect for steam machinery like Mary Ann. No one but Mike Mulligan appreciates her value anymore. Mary Ann is destined for the scrap heap, unless she and Mike can prove that they can dig as much in one day as 100 men can dig in a week. 

It’s a challenge they’re brave enough to take on. But as the hours in that consequential day drag on, the eager spectators from Bangerville, Bopperville, Kipperville, and Kopperville begin to wonder if Mike Mulligan and Mary Ann have bitten off more than they can chew this time.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is a kid-friendly description of the effect that technology has on our existing tools and methods of work. It illustrates the changing times and brings fun, human-like traits to a piece of machinery that finds herself out-of-date. 

But Burton’s well-written story also demonstrates the value that can often be discovered in the old-fashioned, if you’re willing to see it. And her illustrations are as delightful as the tale itself.

- this guest review by Abigail Larsen of larsenreviews.org.

Title: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Author: Virginia Lee Burton
Illustrator: Virginia Lee Burton
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd, $17.95 RRP
Publication Date: 2006
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781845075019 
For ages: 4-10
Type: Picture Book