February 16, 2017
“Does a fiddler crab fiddle?”
This is the first line of the book. Of course, we already know that the answer is NO, but then why is it called a fiddler crab? Young readers have to turn the page to find out.
Spread follows spread in the same form. One asks a silly question, complete with a silly painting, and the next provides the oh-so factual nonfiction answer, teaching young readers about fiddler crab claws and fiddler crab food. Read on to find out where they live, what they eat and how they survive when the tide comes in. The text is brief, the pace is fast and you take in a lot more information than you initially realize.
But for those of you who want your facts dense and no-nonsense, turn to the fact-filled author’s note. There you’ll learn about how many species of fiddler crabs there are, the differences between males and females and much, much more.
When I picked up this book, I came into it knowing that it was nonfiction with a silly side. I had interviewed the authors for an article so I knew something about their research and eye for detail. And the cover had prepared me for the silly. At least, it has prepared me to a point. Then I opened the book to see a top-hatted fiddler crab fiddling away across the sand.
Artist John Sandford pulled off a difficult task. His paintings and bright and lively, invigorating the nonfiction while still being realistic. But they are also fun and fanciful enough to make the fictional spreads believable.
This is an excellent book for reading aloud in the classroom, at story time, or simply with your own young reader. The text is super brief and moves fast, but there’s just enough silly to hold the attention of the squirmy set as they anticipate what will happen next. Read this to your young readers to spark their interest in fiddler crabs and sea life and be ready for a few silly, side-stepping dances.