In Petrie’s (Did You Make the Hole in the Shell in the Sea?, 2013, etc.) educational children’s book, a horseshoe crab learns that an apparent fashion statement is actually necessary for survival.
As a young horseshoe crab wanders the seafloor, “flapping his gills” and “gliding with ease,” he notices something peculiar—a fellow horseshoe crab who’s a bit older, with bits of seaweed, barnacles, and other sea fauna encrusting her shell. The youngster is shocked that his female counterpart would choose to mar her shell this way—why not be light and free? Upon closer inspection, he sees that she has periwinkles, limpets, barnacles, and seaweed covering her sleek outer shell. Although the younger horseshoe crab is bewildered at the idea of weighing oneself down on purpose, he quickly learns why it’s smart. As the sea retreats and the tide gets low, the female horseshoe crab buries herself in the sand, disguising her shell and avoiding the watchful eye of predatory birds. From the air, she just looks like a bunch of seaweed in the ocean. Without anything to hide behind, the younger horseshoe crab is quickly snatched into the sky by a sea gull, but the crustacean manages to fall from its grasp by twisting and turning. After this near-death experience, he understands the wisdom of collecting creatures to live on his carapace, and he’s soon lumpy, bumpy, and, most importantly, safe. Petrie once served as an outreach educator for the New England Aquarium, and her knowledge of and passion for marine life is apparent throughout this colorful work. Readers don’t need to have a deep interest in marine biology to love this book; it’s so engrossing and engaging that the fact that it’s also educational is just an added bonus. Children won’t just learn about horseshoe crabs: after the story is over, the last pages offer a glossary of the sea creatures mentioned within, including limpets, Jonah crabs, and barnacles. Petrie’s bright illustrations are also a delight. Overall, this work is sure to inspire further under-the-sea exploration at bedtime and beyond.
A fun marine adventure that’s fit for everyone.