Don't Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton
Don't Worry, Little Crab by Chris Haughton
Review Copy from Candlewick Press
In 2010, I reviewed Chris Haughton's first picture book and am thrilled to be reviewing his fifth book ten years later. Haughton is a singular talent, delivering uniquely illustrated picture books AND unforgettable, relatable stories that appeal equally to kids and adults. In fact, Shh! We Have a Plan, which begins with a superb quote from Albert Einstein, is one of my Top 5 Read Out Louds for Crowds of All Ages. And I have read it out loud many, many times and will happily read it out loud many more. Don't Worry, Little Crab begins with another magnificent quote, this one from Anaïs Nin; "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
With a stunning palette and a straightforward, reassuring story, Haughton simply, effectively illustrates this quote. Little Crab and Very Big Crab (both genderless) live in a tiny tide pool, but, "Today they're off to THE OCEAN!" Little Crab is excited as they make their way ("Tic-a-tic tic-a-tic over the rocks" and "Squelch squelch squelch through the slimy, slippery seaweed.") to the very edge. "I can go ANYWHERE!" Little Crab exclaims, until . . . Little Crab sees the ocean. And the waves. Echoing experiences I have with my own children, anxious about something new and unknown, Little Crab wants to put an end to the adventure. With gentle fortitude, Very Big Crab encourages and leads Little Crab, who does not stop expressing concern and the belief they should turn around and go back to their placid tide pool. The waves keep getting bigger, but it's always just a few more steps and reassurances from Very Big Crab.
Somehow, with his chunky illustrations, and despite the simple dot eyes of the crabs, Haughton manages to perfectly convey Little Crab's emotions as they reach the ocean. With a final, tension-filled "WHOOSH!" the biggest wave yet washes over the pair. But this wave is one that takes them to the bottom of the ocean where Haughton's palette gloriously explodes like a piñata. After much excitement, play and meeting new friends, of course Little Crab does not want to go home. When Little Crab asks to take the long way home, Very Big Crab ends the story with these words, "I think you can go anywhere."
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