Four linked vignettes featuring characters introduced in Fenske’s picture books (Plankton Is Pushy, 2017, etc.) use the same words over and over while providing context for vocabulary new to beginning readers.
Crabby lives up to their name—they're crabby. The sun’s in their eyes, salt’s in their teeth, sand’s in their shell—just another day at the beach. They're looking for excitement but are too self-absorbed to understand “boring Barnacle’s” warning, “Wave!” In the second chapter, “pushy Plankton” tries to get Crabby to see the bright side of life at the beach, but Crabby insists, “Crabs are crabby. It is what we do.” In Chapter 3, “The Joke,” Crabby refuses to be amused. Finally, in Chapter 4, Plankton almost gets Crabby to smile by baking them a five-layer chocolate cake. Even then, though, Crabby says, “I prefer lemon” and observes, “It is a little dry.” Crabby’s persistent grumpiness and the patient plankton’s exasperation are shown clearly in their expressive eyes and mouths as well as their dialogue. Pages broken into colorful panels and color-coded speech bubbles help beginning readers focus on the words. Flat, two-dimensional cartoon drawings and a smaller-than-usual trim are designed to help new readers make the transition to chapter books with denser text and fewer pictures. Instructions on drawing Crabby and a story prompt close the book.
So silly it’s unlikely to make new readers crabby. (Early reader. 4-6)