cover image Crab Moon

Crab Moon

Ruth Horowitz. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0709-8

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)