Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Mike Mulligan and Katy

These two books have a great shelf life. I started reading them to my four year old two years ago, when he was at the wheel/building site obsessed age and we still read them regularly now, as the story is definitely interesting and question provoking enough for four to six year olds.

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow were written by Virgina Lee Burton in 1939 and 1943. These books don't need great reviews, the fact that they are still in print says it all. (Meaning; they're perfect.)

You might wonder what a steam shovel is - even in 1939 they were becoming obsolete, but in this story Mike refuses to give up on Mary Anne who has worked so well with  him for many years. No matter how many others have dumped their vehicles for ones run by petrol, diesel and electricity, he is sticking by his steam shovel.  I mean, look at what she had achieved.
She "..cut through the high mountains so that trains could go through."
She "..lowered the hill and straightened the curves to make the long highways for the automobiles."

So, when there is no work in the city for Mary Anne and Mike, they head out to the small town of Popperville to see if they can get the job of digging the foundations for the new Town Hall.

They get the job under certain conditions which I will not reveal  here - it would be way more fun to find out yourself. Anyway, this book has got everything- flowing text, detailed, accurate and lovely illustrations which invite inspection. And of course plenty of wheels.

Katy the Snow Plow lives and works in Geopolis, a city that is mapped out in this book. One very snowy day, the lesser ploughs that usually do all the work are redundant. And Katy has to do it all. You can trace her progress with your finger throughout this book. Its such a satisfying journey. Especially if you are a fan of maps. And of course, wheels.

P.s. There's also Maybelle, the Cable Car - which is more or less guaranteed to be great, although I don't own it. Yet.

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