Rebecca Kai Dotlich was our 12 x 12 in 2012 featured author in August. In that post she wrote, among many other things, about how she got the idea for my PPBF selection for today – What Can a Crane Pick Up? I am also fortunate enough to call Rebecca a friend after attending her Poetry Workshop at the Highlights Foundation, where she shared a pre-print version of this book. I’ve had a special place in my heart for it ever since. I have no doubt it will find its way into your heart too. Plus, this book is hot of the presses – released just last week!

What Can a Crane Pick Up

Written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Illustrated by Mike Lowery

Knopf Books for Young Readers, September, 2011

Suitable for: Ages 2+

Themes/Topics: Machines, Cranes, Rhyming, Poetry, Books for Boys

Opening/Synopsis: From Publisher’s Weekly: “All hail the crane! It may be a simple machine, but its answer to every question that Dotlich (Bella & Bean) asks—channeling readers’ wide-eyed inquisitiveness—is yes. “Can a crane pick up a crane? It could!/ And billions of bundles of builders’ wood./ How about poles and pipes and bricks?/ To a crane, it’s a game of pick-up sticks.”

Activities: CRANE is so brand new I couldn’t find published activities, but the possibilities are endless. Talk to kids about what else a crane could pick up. What could other machines pick up/carry/tow? Discuss the difference between a crane and other types of machines. Explore the difference between this book – written as a poem – and other books about machines. Ask kids to draw pictures of objects they think a crane could pick up. Play with toy cranes!

Why I Like This Book: Although the subject matter is endlessly appealing to children, the poetry and rhythm is marvelous and the illustrations delightful, what I love most about this book is how it challenges children to think beyond “normal” expectations. Sure, we all know a crane can pick up bricks and sticks, but a ferris wheel? A cow? Yes! This book not only plays perfectly into the natural inquisitiveness children have, but encourages that curiosity and calls upon kids to take it even farther.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Children's Books, Friendship, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books, Poetry, Rhyming · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. I love brand new books! I remember reading about this one on your blog a few weeks back, and I’ve been wanting to read it since – now I’ll be able to! 🙂 I think the concept of this book is so perfect! I know lots of kids who wonder about stuff like this! Thanks for adding it to our list 🙂

  2. Cool! This sounds like a good bedtime book! 🙂

  3. Sounds like a good book to use in the classroom to encourage imagination. Although it’s for kids, I would think boys would really like this book. They like to think about such things. Great share.

  4. Sounds like an engaging fun book. Will have to get it for my kids.

  5. Great review, Julie. I also loved her story about how the idea for the book came about through some random chit-chat in the car, which I think was in your other post. It looks like a wonderful book.

  6. This book sounds like great fun — and makes me think that it would be fun to have kids pretend to be cranes, carefully picking up pick-up sticks to go with the line in the book about picking things up being the crane’s game of pick-up sticks. Thanks, Julie!

  7. Sounds like a great one, Julie! My son would have LOVED this book when he was little. Now he is 10 and I seem to be surrounded by all things girlie and pink thanks to his little sisters!

  8. This is a great story and one I am considering for my nephews for christmas. Must look it up. Thanks for sharing.

  9. So fun to meet you in person, Julie! Have a great week!


  10. Thanks so much, Julie…and I LOVE that it is a 12x12er who wrote it! Such an inspiration to all of us who are working at creating great picture books! I shared this on my new FB page. 🙂 I know my grandson would really enjoy this!

  11. Thanks! This looks like such an awesome book – and I love the background story….. it inspires me to keep on scribbling.

  12. What fun! A crane picks up a cow and a ferris wheel! I’ll have to get a copy for my grandson. I’ll bet he’d love it. I love finding new authors, new books. Thanks!

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