About the Holiday
Read a New Book Month is a fantastic time to scour your local bookstore and library for books that have recently been published or books that are new to you. Finding a book that you’ve never read before is exciting at any age, and discovering a new book about a favorite topic is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Today’s book is definitely one that will lift the spirits of all kids who love vehicles and good stories.
Thanks go to Star Bright Books for sending me a copy of The Little Red Crane for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own. I’m happy to be teaming with Star Bright Books in a giveaway of the book. See details below.
The Little Red Crane
By Cornelius Van Wright
One day Dex, a little red crane, and his operator Pete received a letter from a place far away asking for help. The next day they set out to begin their long trip. On the way, Pete had to stop his truck to let their friend Larry the Loader Crane pass by. Larry was delivering steel beams to a construction site where a tall building was going up. He steadied himself with his outriggers so he didn’t tip over. Terry the Telescopic Crane was there too, helping to lift the beams into place. They both wondered if Dex would like to help. “No thanks,’ replied Dex. ‘I’m on my way to an incredibly important BIG job.’”
When Pete and Dex reached the docks, they met Sam the Ship-Building Crane. He was as tall as a skyscraper and straddled the new ocean liner he was helping to build. Dex would like to have accepted Sam’s invitation to watch, but they were due at Pier 11. When they got there, another giant, Sally the Ship-to-Shore Crane, was waiting to lift Dex and Pete and their truck onto the cargo ship that would take them across the ocean.
After sailing for a few days far out to sea, Dex heard the “sounds of offshore cranes at work” on a huge Oil Rig which was extracting “oil from under the seabed.” Coming close to land at last, the cargo ship passed under a bridge where Dex watched a Floating Crane installing a new section of concrete. Back on land and driving through the city, Dex marveled at the number of cranes he saw. “Giant Tower Cranes were busy helping to construct tall skyscrapers. Dex began to think someone had made a mistake in asking him to come to the city.
Finally, Pete and Dex arrived at a stately building. Dex felt tiny in the shadow of the mammoth marble columns that flanked the doorway. Inside, Pete used his remote control device to steer “Dex through narrow halls and doorways. Warning: Don’t try this, 18-Wheelers! They stopped in the center of a large room filled with crates. Ahhhhh! It felt good to “unfold and stretch his long legs.”
Carefully, Dex lifted piece after piece from the crates and lifted them into the air so that workers could put them together. Dex may have been little, but he was capable of lifting 2,000 pounds, which came in handy since he had just helped assemble the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex! Pete congratulated Dex on a job well done, and the museum visitors who streamed in to see the exhibit would agree.
An illustrated guide with fascinating facts about each crane, including alternate names for each, descriptions of how they work, and the amount of weight each can lift or carry, follows the story.
Little fans of big construction vehicles will be awestruck by Cornelius Van Wright’s story and vibrant illustrations. Van Wright understands young reader’s thirst for knowledge, and his straightforward descriptions of the work each type of crane performs are satisfying. The mystery of Dex’s very important job will pique kids’ interest, and the revelation that Dex, because of his small size, is the only kind of crane able to help assemble a dinosaur skeleton is empowering and will delight readers. The pages of back matter are sure to spark further research and learning.
Bold and bright, Van Wright’s illustrations depict realistic and detailed images of each type of crane while the natural formation of grills, headlights, and insignia create the slightly anthropomorphized faces that give each character its personality. In addition to the cranes, Van Wright includes construction materials and proportionate building and ships that allow children to visualize scale. Children will be fascinated by Van Wright’s gorgeous landscapes and seascapes as they learn that cranes work on land as well as on water. Images inside the museum will have kids guessing about the job Dex is about to do, and as he lifts bones and finally the T-rex skull from their crates, you can be sure there will be plenty of exclamations of “Wow!” and “Awesome!”
Sure to fascinate kids interested in vehicles and construction and to have them searching streets and skylines for the real thing, The Little Red Crane is also a unique book for sparking math and early physics extensions on size, scale, measurements, weight, and simple machines for young learners. The book would be a favorite go-to for home, school, and public library collections.
Ages 3 – 6
Star Bright Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1595728432
To learn more about Cornelius Van Wright, his books, and his art, visit his website.
Follow Dex in this book trailer that’s loads of fun!
Read a New Book Month Activity
Exploring simple machines is fun for kids and a great way to learn about scientific concepts of physics and engineering. With this activity, children can experiment with the idea of pulleys by changing the number of lids the string wraps around, varying the thickness of the string they use, and trying heavy and lighter loads to discover what works and what doesn’t.
- Thick white board or cardboard
- Plastic jar and bottle lids in various sizes (I used 8 lids)
- String and/or cord (I used macramé cord). Kids can experiment with various materials, such as ribbon and different weights of string.
- Binder clip (option: use a small pail or container)
- Magnet (optional)
- Small metal items to pick up
- Hot glue gun or strong glue
- Attach lids to white board or cardboard in a scattered pattern with glue
- Cut a 7 or 8-foot length of string or cord
- Tie the binder clip to the string, attach the magnet to the bottom
- Wrap the string from lid to lid, allowing the two ends of the string to hang free
- Pulling the string should raise the binder clip; loosening the string should allow the clip to lower
- Put small metal items on the floor and lower the binder clip to pick them up
- Have fun experimenting with wrapping the string in various patterns around the lids
You can find The Little Red Crane at these booksellers
To support your local independent bookstore, order from
Picture Book Review