Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (ISBN 0-590-75803-9) is a children's book by Virginia Lee Burton. First published in 1939, it features Mike Mulligan, a steam shovel operator, and his steam shovel Mary Anne. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children."
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 sunup 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.
On page 39 of the book's original edition, a footnote appears in which the idea of converting Mary Anne into a furnace is attributed to "Dickie Birkenbush." In fact, the footnote was misspelled; it was intended to refer to Dick Berkenbush. According to an article in The Boston Globe, the idea was suggested during a dinner table conversation:
At dinner on Chestnut Hill that evening, the author told the Albertsons and Berkenbushes about her dilemma. She had written Mike and Mary Anne into a literal corner -- they were stuck in the hole they dug for the Town Hall basement. Dick, then about 12 years old, suggested the steam shovel could become the building's heating source. It was a simple notion, he said. "My father had a garage in town that had a steam heating system, so I was familiar with it." 
In the American independent film Slacker (1991), the book appears close to the start of the film under the projector in the bedroom.
In 1992, HBO created an animated short of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. It was released on video by Golden Video (a partner company of Golden Books). As of 2012 this story is shown as a HBO Storybook Musical. Another video was released on DVD by Scholastic Books, along with movies of twenty-seven other classic children's books.
- National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 22, 2012.
- James Sullivan (March 30, 2006). "As a child, his steam fueled hot 1939 children's classic". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-07-04.