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Crab Moon


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About the Author

Ruth Horowitz is "drawn to species that get overlooked because they're not big-eyed or cuddly or cute. I hope this book will show readers the rewards of reaching out to a being that may seem utterly alien at first glance." Kate Kiesler makes her home in the mountains but enjoyed painting the seashore. "On a snowy day I could walk into my studio and be at the beach. Sometimes I could almost smell the salty air."


K-Gr 3-On a summer weekend, Daniel, seven, and his family arrive at a seaside cottage. His mother remembers the seasonal spawning of horseshoe crabs on this selfsame shore when she was a child, and, at Daniel's urging, wakes him in the middle of the night to witness the phenomenon under the full moon. Hand in hand, they go to the moonlit beach and find the horseshoe crabs surging to the sand in clambering multitudes, caught in a springtide rhythm almost as old as time. The next morning, viewing the scene, Daniel finds "-one last, lonely crab marooned upside down," rights her, and follows her slow progress to the sea. Horowitz's quiet text reflects the moonlit awe of this ageless pattern, and Kiesler's luminous oils capture freeze-frame moments in perfect step (including the sandy borders and backgrounds). A page of Limulus facts is appended, which describes the stresses these ancient animals are encountering. Pair this with Mark Shasha's The Night of the Moonjellies (S & S, 1992; o.p.) for a quiet look at two unheralded, somewhat unlovely, but important marine creatures.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Precise, lyrical language tells the story: the crabs sounding like 'restless cobblestones'; black seawed on the sand looking like 'streamers left over from a party.'

Despite its linguistic charms, Horowitz's (Bat Time) quiet text reads more like a science lesson than a full-fledged story. The plot is minimal: under the full moon, seven-year-old Daniel and his mother watch as streams of horseshoe crabs lay their eggs on the beach and, the next morning, Daniel helps an overturned crab return to the sea. Chock-full of information, the dialogue is unfortunately stilted. "The full moon in June brings the high tide of the horseshoe crabs," says Daniel's mother. "That's a female. The smaller crab on her back is a male." The plot's two-page conflict at the end of the book, about Daniel deciding to flip over a crab even though he's nervous about touching it, does not contain much in the way of suspense. On the other hand, Horowitz's poetic descriptions are buried throughout the text as smooth as sea glass. The reader sees how "the fat, round face of the full moon wavered on the surface of the water" and "curly black seaweed was strewn on the sand, like streamers left over from a party." Kiesler's seascapes are skillfully rendered but static, trading the ethereal qualities of her Fishing for a Dream for realism. Glowing yet somber, they do little to engage readers' emotions in Daniel's mild adventure. Ages 6-9. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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