Mike Mulligan

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

by Virginia Lee Burton Year Published: 1939

After many years of working successfully together, Mike and Mary Anne face competition from modern, diesel-powered shovels. Seeking an area of the country where his less modern steam shovel can still find work, Mike finds a small town that is about to build a new town hall. The authorities react with disbelief when Mike makes the claim that he and his steam shovel Mary Anne can dig the cellar in a single day; they protest that it would take a hundred men a week. Mike insists that Mary Anne can indeed finish the job in one day, though he has some private doubts.

At sun-up the next day, Mike and Mary Anne begin work and just manage to complete the task by sundown. However, they have neglected to dig themselves a ramp so they can drive out. A child who had been watching makes the suggestion that Mike take the job of janitor for the town hall, and that Mary Anne should become the boiler for the town hall's heating system.