“Hurry, Mike Mulligan! Hurry! Hurry!”


This book wound up in my to-read pile by way of one of those Internet rabbit holes that began with this article on Atlas Obscura (a very dangerous site you should stay the hell away from, except not), which informed me

To children worldwide, Virginia Lee Burton is the beloved hand behind half a dozen classics, including Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Katy and the Big Snow, and The Little House—intricately illustrated tales of close-knit communities.

Not this child. When you click through the Atlas Obscura post you arrive at the Cape Ann Museum website, there is more–

The Folly Cove Designers was composed almost entirely of women, most being residents of Cape Ann and a majority having no artistic training prior to becoming involved in the group. They worked under the leadership of Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios, who devised a design course which she offered to her friends and neighbors in the Folly Cove neighborhood. Participants were urged by Demetrios to look to their surroundings for inspiration, to draw “what they knew” and to sketch their subjects over and over again until they made them their own.

Who can resist a love story about a guy and his steam engine? Not me, so I ordered a copy of the 75th anniversary edition and I’m not ashamed to say I read it out loud to my inner child and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Good writing, great illustrations and serious suspense

Never had Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne

had so many people to watch them;

never had they dug so fast and so well;

and never had the sun seemed

to go down so fast.

“Hurry, Mike Mulligan!

Hurry! Hurry!

but all ends well, if not quite how you would expect. This is one of those books you buy not for the kids in your life but for the parents who will have to read it over and over and over again and won’t be mad at you.

Read more of my Goodreads reviews here.

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Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

6 Comments Leave a comment

  1. My mom read all the Virginia Lee Burton books to me, and I read them to my children. But, when I read them to my children we were living on Cape Ann within walking distance of Folly Cove, and the Cape Ann Museum was a quick-stop reward for good behavior in the grocery store on rainy days. (The good weather reward was a walk on the fishing boat docks.) I’m so glad you were able to fill this serious gap in your inner child’s delight.

  2. This is one of those children’s books that shows up in other children’s books. That’s how popular it is. Also, when I was little, I thought I’d marry Mike. He was so nice to his steam shovel.

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