Grades K-3. This nonfiction picture book balances information with literary language to provide an engaging choice for very young seashore scientists. Each watercolor-filled, double-page spread illustrates a moment in the life cycle of this arthropod: their nighttime arrival above the tide line to lay their eggs; the shore birds that prey on those eggs; beach walkers and environmentalists who tag individual horseshoe crabs to track migratory patterns and behavior; and the eventual departure of the hatchlings back into the ocean until the next season. Schnell weaves together the crabs’ behavior and that of other creatures on the beach, including humans, which gives a well-rounded and interesting view of the beach ecosystem. Marks’ watercolor-and-pencil illustrations depict a wide range of perspectives, both above and below the water, as well as a diverse cast of people and realistic renderings of horseshoe crabs. The fairly extensive back matter offers further information, including websites about different types of shore life, a map of the richest horseshoe crab mating areas in America, and activities and resources for expanded learning.
"It's starting." This informative picture book deftly builds anticipation for the yearly spawning of the horseshoe crabs and the attendant migratory bird feast and scientific data collection. Realistic watercolor and pencil illustrations include mesmeric moonlit scenes, an endnote explains the crabs' importance to medical science, and helpful endpapers identify the crabs' body parts and their functions. Reading list, websites. Bib.
In a natural-world extravaganza, horseshoe crabs, birds and people meet up each spring on the shores of the Delaware Bay. This remarkable event is chronicled for younger readers and listeners with a simple two-level text and watercolor-and-pencil illustrations that correctly portray the various visitors: the crabs who've come ashore to lay their eggs; the red knots, sanderlings and ruddy turnstones stopping on their long migration north for the feast; and the scientists and vacationers who've come to marvel and record the annual event. Marks' soft paintings bring young readers into the story by including a recognizable, possibly Asian-American, young girl as a focal character, one of the onlookers. Short, simple paragraphs, each with a two-word headline, are set on top of the double-page spreads. The headlines summarize, spread by spread: "It's starting. / They're arriving. / They're flapping. / They're traveling. / They're laying. / They're landing. / IT'S HAPPENING!" And so forth. The narrative thus conveyed is simple and reliant on illustrations to understand antecedents, but it's also accurate and informative. It's followed by a more detailed explanation for older readers of the crab's life cycle and behavior, its part in the food web, its importance to humans, especially in medicines and medical devices, and an extensive list of suggestions for further exploration. The endpapers show horseshoe-crab anatomy with labels that name and explain major parts. A splendid introduction to an extraordinary spectacle. (Informational picture book. 3-7)
Gr 2-4-This charming picture book describes the annual spawning of horseshoe crabs at Delaware Bay. Softly hued, delicately detailed watercolor spreads depict the events: the crabs gathering on the beach to mate and lay their eggs in the sand, migratory birds arriving to feast on the eggs that haven't been buried deeply enough, scientists and volunteers coming to watch, and the baby crabs eventually hatching and making their way to the sea. Brief, bold action statements introduce the different sections, and the language provides analogies children can grasp ("Some of these birds weigh only as much as a handful of paper clips. Still, they are powerful enough to fly thousands of miles."). Readers will learn about the spawning process, as well as how scientists and volunteers tag these animals for identification purposes. Thorough back matter provides more information, including how products made from the crabs can benefit people. End pages present detailed anatomical diagrams of the top and underside of a horseshoe crab. Schnell also lets readers know how they can witness the spawning for themselves. VERDICT A wonderful introduction to these creatures and the importance of monitoring them. A particularly strong addition for Eastern seaboard locations, as well as for collections across the country.-Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA © Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.