Don’t Worry, Little Crab – written and illustrated by Chris Haughton

      Don’t Worry, Little Crab – written and illustrated by Chris Haughton, Candlewick Press, 9781536211191, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5+

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book?  Have you ever wondered why crabs seem equally at home on land or in the water? I have, but this book doesn’t answer that question. Instead it’s a beautiful and joyful lesson about taking a leap of faith, with a trusted adult by your side. Big Crab and Little Crab live in a tiny tide pool. Little Crab is so excited because today, they’re going to visit the ocean. But when they finally arrive, the waves are HUGE! Patiently, Big Crab coaches Little Crab to face the waves and together they scuttle to the ocean floor, where they meet new friends, eat delicious seaweed and play hide-and-seek. This exuberant picture book just screams fun, from its kooky turquoise-dominated brightly colored scenes to its use of Haughton’s very own font, which you’ll probably recognize from his other books. The type is highly variable, switching colors, jumping from white on fields of color to turquoise as vignettes flash by. Despite its frenetic activity, it’s easy to follow as the narration logically moves from fear to mastery.

The digital art includes a lot of texture, including simulated brush strokes and bubbly froth. The crabs are a masterwork on less is more. Made of just a few solid colors that recall roughly torn paper, they are still full of character — I loved how their purple eyes perched on yellow stalks swiveled simultaneously upward as a wave loomed over them. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? No. This is a master work by a highly accomplished artist and storyteller. FYI: crabs store oxygen in their gills, bladder and blood so that they can live in or out of the water. Also, this is the first children’s book I ever read that starts with a quote from Anaïs Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

To whom would you recommend this book?  This would be a great picture book to read to ease children into life-altering events: first day of school, first visit to the ocean, first playdate with a new friend, etc. With its large pictures, naturalistic dialogue and suspenseful story, it would make a terrific read aloud. It could even open up a unit on sea life and lead to some investigation of how different sea inhabitants breathe! Haughton has a significant body of work now and could serve as an anchor for an author study unit in kindergarten to grade 2. It would be a lot of fun to have students turn his work into short skits.

Who should buy this book? Preschools, elementary schools, public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? YES!

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: May 27, 2020

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