On a late spring night under a full moon, Leena, her mother, and her dog count horseshoe crabs on an island beach.
Simply written in short paragraphs, this slim text is long on information if short on excitement. Horseshoe crabs (not true crabs but related to spiders) swarm up beaches along the Atlantic coast to lay eggs in the sand in spring. Millions of migrating shorebirds, including endangered red knots, time their visits to these beaches to feast on the eggs. Humans use the blood of horseshoe crabs to test medicine. The state of the species is important, and citizen scientists like Leena and her mother are deployed to estimate the crab population by counting individuals in a designated area. The authors recount Leena’s experience: a short boat trip, recording time and temperature, looking carefully at an individual crab, getting her dog to wait patiently, and counting while her mother tallies. Jones’ digital paintings resemble animated films; she makes particular use of the spotlight effects of the moonlight. Black-haired Leena and her mother might be of South Asian heritage like the scientist co-author. Four pages of backmatter add helpful information. This story leaves readers with less of a sense of the wonder of this remarkable spring event than Lisa Kahn Schnell and Alan Marks’ High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs (2015) but is more personal. Bat Count, by Anna Forrester and illustrated by Susan Detweiler, publishes simultaneously and features a black family engaging in similar citizen science on their farm.
A useful introduction to citizen science. (Informational picture book. 4-8)