STARRED REVIEW
February 06, 2019

Crab Cake

By Andrea Tsurumi
Review by

Crab Cake’s environmental message, though never heavy-handed, comes across loud and clear in this altogether entertaining and informative story of a community that bands together to make a difference.

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The end pages of author and illustrator Andrea Tsurumi’s new picture book Crab Cake give readers a hint of the gratifyingly offbeat nature of this story: we see jellyfish, floating deep in the ocean, with cakes at their centers. We are then launched into a detailed undersea world that is “home to many incredible creatures.” We see manta ray, scallop, pufferfish, moray eel and many other aquatic animals, and Crab is busy making cakes. Tsurumi plays up the understated humor in expressive cartoon-like illustrations complete with speech balloons for dialogue. Quiet, studious Crab is especially entertaining, always with a cake at the ready. In one very funny spread, an open-mouthed shark follows a line of four fish, and the puzzled fish in the front is greeted with a cupcake baked by Crab.

The tone shifts dramatically, accompanied by a slowly darkening palette, when one evening there is a “BIG SPLASH!” A barge unloads a massive pile of trash into the water, and in one stark, dark and wordless spread, we see the pile of junk up-close. The confounded sea creatures freeze, but Crab bakes another cake, thereby jolting them out of their shock and into action. After all, theirs is an abundant, busy world under the surface of the water, and they’d like to keep it that way. Working together, they lug the trash back up to a boat dock next to a sign that reads, “COME GET YOUR JUNK!” Cue the befuddled humans.

Crab Cake’s environmental message, though never heavy-handed, comes across loud and clear in this altogether entertaining and informative story of a community that bands together to make a difference.

 

Julie Danielson conducts interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books.

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Crab Cake

Crab Cake

By Andrea Tsurumi
HMH
ISBN 9780544959002

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