Marvelous New Picture Books Monday: Crab Cake


I realize it’s not Monday, but I’m not entirely sure why my Neely’s News haven’t been posting, but I just realized that now! All mine are going to be posted really close together I guess.

I discovered this book thanks to Emily Bean during a blog discussion. Immediately after class, I went on Amazon and order Crab Cake by Andrea Tsurumi because I was so intrigued by the topic, but especially by the astounding illustrations. I was super excited when it arrived, after having pre-ordered it before its release in February, because I could tell immediately that it would be in my future library and I would share it with my own children–be it in a classroom or therapy situation.

I was instantly drawn into this book just by seeing the cover. When Emily showed us some of the illustrations, I was in complete awe of the amount of pure detail that Tsurumi included on every single one of the pages. It is astounding how much work she was able to put in to create this very realistic underwater world. I have always been very partial to any story that takes place under the sea, but these illustrations really sold the book for me. While the writing is interesting, it is truly the illustrations that tell the story that the book hopes to get across. Everything is in such detail and truly looks as though an underwater scene one might come across while scuba-diving or snorkeling perhaps.


The stark contrast from the bright, luminous pictures at the beginning, to the all-of-a-sudden dark, gloomy illustrations when the trash is dumped into the ocean brings great attention to the seriousness of the situation and forces the reader to pay attention to what is happening.


The book is able to address a huge conflict that the world is currently facing right now with poise and humor. Without sounding accusatory or lecture-like, Andrea Tsurumi is able to introduce the idea of pollution and habitat loss in a way that children can easily understand. Throughout the effects of pollution, Tsurumi creates an underwater community that is supposed to represent the community that we as a whole society need to create in order to make any changing impact on the environment. Tsurumi seemingly hopes to warn individuals of the dangers of ocean pollution while trying to hint at the fact that we need to work as a community to change the effects that we have all put into action. Rather than forcing an environmental-conservation agenda, which can seem overwhelming, the book introduces the idea of conservation more light-heartedly, but still impactfully, which people will be more responsive to.

 There is nothing particularly special about the writing, which in turn, makes the writing somewhat special, because it is so unique from other books. The book is merely trying to get across a message about the effects of pollution on marine life. Rather than trying to sugar-coat the scenario, or make it fancy in any way, Tsurumi very directly and explicitly tells the situation the way that it is in real life. I think it is important that such a complicated subject be simplified for young ages, as it is something that should be implemented very early on in education to have a bigger impact on the individuals that affect the ocean.


Overall, I would recommend this for pretty much any age, as it is incredibly versatile in its message, and is easy to read.


-Julia Ham


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