Boyce, Author, Katie Boyce, Author, Katie Boyce, Illustrator . Bloomsbury $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58234-800-1

In newcomer Boyce's gentle story, shy Hector avoids all interaction with his smiling neighbor crabs on the ocean floor until, one day, a large, colorful "flower" grows on his gray-blue shell. Fearing that the flower, resembling a long winter hat composed of loud horizontal orange, red and yellow stripes, will attract the attention of his neighbors, "Hector tried everything to get rid of it. He squashed and he poked, and sawed and chopped and pruned and re-potted and stopped." Exhausted, he falls asleep, only to awaken to more flowers on his shell, and a gathering of crab spectators. The text rolls across the pages in gentle arcs and molds itself around the action. For example, the words describing the crowds of crabs approaching Hector form a path along which the crabs walk. Boyce's drawings resemble children's artwork and take similar liberties: the crabs have two arms and walk on two feet; some wear glasses, others socks. Young readers, who are privy to information that a hiding Hector is not, will recognize the appeal of neighbors who fly kites, build sandcastles and play ring-around-a-rosey. When the crabs respond sweetly to Hector's plea to "Leave me alone!" Hector learns that "Making friends wasn't so difficult after all." Accessible and tender, this story may coax shy readers to venture out of their shells. Ages 3-6. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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