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WHAT CAN A CRANE PICK UP? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich


by Rebecca Kai Dotlich & illustrated by Mike Lowery

Age Range: 2 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-86726-2
Publisher: Knopf

This is the sort of book readers co-write along with the author.

Children already know how to play this game. If they like construction vehicles, then any time they look at a large object, they’re probably thinking, “Could a crane pick that up?” A truck, of course, and another truck and yet another truck, and even "a railroad car, if it gets stuck." On Dotlich goes, upping the ante, until she asks, “Can a crane pick up a crane?” By the end of the book, the crane has lifted a crane, a polar bear and a submarine. Most readers will be impressed, but children who play the game year-round will wonder why it didn’t pick up a brachiosaurus or a pirate ship or a wagon full of elephants. But items like “an ancient mummy’s case” and “boxes and boxes of underwear” will satisfy them. Sometimes an entire page is covered with objects, as though the artist couldn’t stop drawing. Even the words of the story are scattered all over the page. This can make the rhythmic, pleasingly rhymed text fragmented and difficult to follow, but most of the time, it gives the story an energy that’s hard to resist. 

For some children, however, the real excitement will come after they’ve reached the last page and their grown-up asks, “What else can a crane pick up?” Children will ask to read this book many times, but the words may change every time they read it. (Picture book. 2-7)