Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Taking The Plunge

The first time you stand on the shores of one of the Great Lakes or a sea or an ocean, the vastness of the water spread before you is a stunning revelation.  Being near something so large the opposite shore is not visible, shifts your perspective. You always knew it was immense but now, while having a special beauty, it's a bit daunting.

Your respect for this watery vision grows and little trickles of fear zing through your body.  You wonder about the safeness of leaving the shore.  Don't Worry, Little Crab (Candlewick Press, April 7, 2020) written and illustrated by Chris Haughton explores with knowledgeable insight the emotional ups and downs of venturing into new territory.

Little Crab and Very Big Crab
live in a tiny tide pool. 

Today is a very special day for the duo.  Today Little Crab is going to THE OCEAN.  He is excited.  He can hardly stand the suspense.

From their tide pool they trek over rocks, other pools of water and seaweed.  His confidence expanding after these short accomplishments, Little Crab declares his first-class ability as an adventurer.  This all changes when he gets his first glimpse of THE OCEAN.  A very small


sums up his thoughts.

He begins a series of suggestions for remaining on the cliff which are countered by Very Big Crab.  When the first wave crashes over them, fortunately both crustaceans hug the rocks.  Whew!  Another larger wave rushes toward them.  Will Little Crab stay fast?

Little Crab survives that wave but he's ready to head home.  Big Crab gently urges him to take one step and then another step and still one more step.  Little Crab can't believe it, he's in THE OCEAN!

A gigantic wave approaches and the twosome dive.  A world of wonders spreads before Little Crab.  A crowd of friends introduces themselves.  Little Crab moves from one delectable moment to the next.  The biggest surprise of the day, for him and readers, comes at the end of the day.  It's marvelously truthful.

What readers, regardless of their age, appreciate about Chris Haughton is his masterful ability to convey large feelings with few words.  He blends dialogue into the straightforward narrative.  Alliterative sound effects accompany his storyline.  Punctuation provides pacing and emotional drama.  We find ourselves drawn deeper and deeper into his words.  Here is a passage.

"Maybe it's better if 
we don't go in the
ocean," says Little Crab.

"Don't worry,"
says Very Big Crab.
"It will be OK."

But the waves are getting bigger . . .
Look! A huge wave!
Hold tight!
Here it comes!

The teal canvas on the matching dust jacket and book case spreads edge to edge, including the flap edges.  It's an ideal background for the white text and brilliant colors used in the creation of Little Crab.  His size on the front, right side, proportionality indicts how small he is.  To the left, on the back, Little Crab and Very Big Crab are shown side by side with their large eyes looking to the right.  On the front Little Crab and the text are varnished.

A darker ocean blue covers the opening and closing endpapers.  Using a lighter blue, Chris Haughton outlines two different beneath-the-sea scenes on each set of endpapers.  The initial title page is a replication of the front of the jacket and case, but Little Crab is placed on white with teal letters.  The formal title page is a two-page image of the vast ocean, rocky crags and splashing waves.  On the dedication and verso page Chris Haughton places this quote:

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion
to one's courage." --- Anais Nin

The distinctive digitally fashioned illustrations of Chris Haughton span double and single pages.  Regardless of the image size, Chris Haughton varies his point of view to accentuate the narrative visually.  He alternates his background from shades of blue to white.  Most of his pictures have large white borders.  Chris Haughton's use of color is vivid, imaginative and highly appealing.  Readers will be captivated by his ability to depict emotion with shifts in the crabs' eyes and placement of their claws.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations spans two pages with a wide white frame around it.  On the left a portion of rock generates a triangle from the upper left corner to the gutter.  On this is Little Crab.  He appears large because we are very close to him.  A tiny bit of one of his claws is in THE OCEAN.  It's fairly calm with the remnants of white foam on top.  Behind this is a teal background.  Little Crab's eyes are large with astonishment as he realizes he's in THE OCEAN.  You can feel his supreme bliss.

Sometimes if we approach our fear step-by-step with the help of a friend, our bravery builds until we can experience more joy than we imagined.  Don't Worry, Little Crab written and illustrated by Chris Haughton is a book with a jubilant blend of words and expressive visuals conveying the journey of one tiny crab in a single day.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Chris Haughton and his work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  At his website you can view numerous interior images from this book.  On his blog he outlines the making of this book.  I believe you will enjoy his illustrative process.  Chris Haughton has accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  You can view an interior image at the publisher's website and others at Penguin Random House.  Here is a link to an Activity Kit.  Teacher librarian and author Travis Jonker features this book and Chris Haughton on his blog at School Library Journal, 100 Scope Notes. Please enjoy the book trailer.

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