Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Can a Crane Pick Up?

What Can a Crane Pick Up?
written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich; illustrated by Mike Lowery
2012 (Alfred A. Knopf)
Source: Orange County Public Library

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What would a K-2 student say about a book that includes heavy machinery, space flight, mummies, and underwear? After giggling for five minutes after the mention of "underwear", they would think it was a pretty cool book. And they would be right. What Can a Crane Pick Up? is a rhyming book that combines factual information and a touch of the absurd. Read this rhyme if you don't believe me:

What else can a crane lift high in the air?
A sunken ship, a polar bear, and boxes and boxes and boxes of underwear.

Yes, we know that a crane can pick up many things, but we don't think to combine ships, polar bears, and underwear. It's like a kid's version of David Letterman dropping stuff off a tower. This book just screams fun  with the text and illustrations. But there are some sneaky lessons here as well. I would use this book with students who are just beginning to learn the concept of theme. They could write a sentence that expresses the big idea of the book. It would also go well with a unit on simple machines. In the book, there is a wide variety of punctuation printed in a big colorful font so you could also read this book and model fluent reading with expression. I promise you that What Can a Crane Pick Up? will be one of your most popular read aloud selections of the year in a K-2 classroom.

Other reviews:
A Year of Reading


  1. way cool.... I love cranes! And what a neat way to introduce some basic mechanics.

  2. Thank you, Jeff. What a lift. Thank you for highlighting WHAT CAN A CRANE PICK UP and I love your witty reference to David Letterman dropping stuff off a tower. Made me laugh.
    I really hope this is going to be a book little builders and big machine lovers will read over and over. One can dream.
    Thank you, thank you.


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