Paul Hankins's Reviews > What Can a Crane Pick Up?

What Can a Crane Pick Up? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
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Rebecca Kai Dotlich's WHAT CAN A CRANE PICK UP is a delightful little book that would pair well with the popular books about construction like GOODNIGHT GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE, Gail Gibbons's HOW A HOUSE IS BUILT, and BUILDER GOOSE, a charming little book of rhymes about construction.

What Rebecca Kai Dotlich has created here is a book that speaks to the Tonka truck set. Those lovable little ones who are still stacking blocks to make towers, turning handles to operate string operated cranes and scoops, and plowing paths with bulldozers, believing that one day they may be behind the sticks that make these big machines move.

WHAT A CRANE CAN PICK UP invites itself to be read aloud. I think this is the only way to catch the sly little rhythms that Rebecca has built into the text the way a masterful children's poet can and will (and an underwear reference will carry it to six stars for knowing and speaking to the demographic here). What happens here is a question that might read like, "What can the listener 'pick up' in what the author has left behind to be discovered?"

Well. . .really nothing if we are not inviting young readers, especially our younger guy readers to scoop into the lines, to pull them to their ear like a cup fashioned by a string to the author's intent, plowing ahead into other collections of verse that deal in machinery and mechanization.

Mike Lowry's illustrations give a little personality to the cranes depicted within. The cranes remind me, as I am sure they will younger readers, of the ever-grinning Lego figures that come with the building kits. I love the businessmen in suits on a pallet along with cowboy boots.

Go back. Read this aloud to yourself again. Deepen your voice a little. Give yourself a little English accent and hear what Rebecca has really created with this charming little book. Don't stop on the page; hit that rhythm and you will see what makes this deceptively-simple book really sing. . .or if you will. . ."move."

Okay. Now, watch. . .this is how we bring this one all of the way up to the secondary level.

Isn't this book an invitation to think about classical invention? Really? Listen to the title. . .what can a __________ _____________? Upon closer inspection, we see Rebecca being a little light-hearted and silly with the crane, but what can _______ do? Or __________ (fill these in with student interests and you have a wonderful introduction to how to shape a topic for research asking a simple analysis question that leads to categorization and classification.

Two more titles to "ladder up" with Rebecca Kai Dotlich's book might be:

CLICK, RUMBLE, AND ROAR: POEMS ABOUT MACHINES by Lee Bennett Hopkins
INCREDIBLE INVENTIONS by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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