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The Hermit Crab needs to find a new home. He has grown too big and his shell is too cramped. Hermit Crab is scared without his shell, so he needs to find a new one soon, and then maybe some friends to help decorate it and keep him company. A House for Hermit Crab is a lovely children's picture book by Eric Carle. It is suitable for ages 3 to 8 and is great for teaching the months, animals under the sea, and relationships.
Little Hermit Crab is a sweet little chap, who needs to find a new home. He quickly finds an empty shell, big enough for him to live in and grow some more, as he does not like to be unprotected and is scared of some of the bigger ocean fish. His new shell is rather dull and has no character so he decides to brighten it up with the various sea creatures he discovers throughout the year. Hermit Crab obviously has a 'pull' towards exterior design, and feels he needs to express his inner flair upon his shell!
During the year Hermit Crab meets numerous sea creatures to stick upon his shell. These include some 'crusty coral', a spiky sea urchin and a small sea anemone. By November, poor old Hermit Crab has grown a little too much and realises he needs a bigger home again. However, he is in a dilemma as he has become very close to all his friends and is reluctant to leave them. Luckily, a smaller hermit crab comes by and needs a new shell, he promises to take care of all Hermit Crab's friends as well as his shell. The story comes in a full circle, and Hermit Crab finds another new shell, which he needs to decorate with new and interesting friends.
The book has very cleverly been divided into months. Each new page starts with, as an example, "In March..." or "In April....". Here we follow hermit Crab's adventure and travels. He meets a new 'friend' and places them on his shell, one per month. It is great for helping to teach the months and getting the listeners to try and predict which month is coming next. Months are always quite confusing to learn and retell, so this is a fun and ideal way to practice. We follow Hermit Crabs journey for a year.
This does not seem to be a very exciting book, but in reality there are many discussion and learning points to elaborate upon. It's a great introduction into 'under the sea'. By this I mean all the sea creatures are fact and children can be welcomed into a world that many do not know exists. Also, I will let you into a secret, the fact that a hermit crab needs to 'move' shells is something that I didn't know!
The language used throughout the book is great. It is full of fantastic descriptive words, describing the underwater animals, the way in which they move and their environment. Words such as gloomy, crusty, spiky, and murky are just some examples of the words used. They really help to extend a little mind's imagination and extend their vocabulary. I find with boys (sorry guys) they really struggle with descriptive words and expressing themselves, especially at primary age.
As with most Eric Carle picture books the type of font and the illustrations are slightly dated. This book was first published in 1987 and has much competition from modern day picture books. It has been illustrated with a simple paint brush effect that includes many vibrant colours. The pictures are actually quite life like and the animals are recognisable.
One thing I really like about this book is the fact that friendships develop between the animals. Each have different attributes to help complete the house. The lantern fish is the light and the sea urchin is security/protection. So everyone has a role to play, and the shell is only complete with all the friends working together. This can be applied when chatting with the kids at home, as everyone in our house has a role, and they are all important. It is also great when discussing the individual sea animals and finding out why they are like they are.
A House for Hermit Crab is a picture book about friendship, growing up and of course underwater life. It is a really sweet simple story, but also involves lots of facts and is of course a great discussion point. So, although it is an 'old school' book, it is still engaging and enjoyable. I often feel it is how the story teller actually reads the book that keeps the audience focused, and if this is read well then little listeners will thoroughly enjoy the book as well as having learnt something new.
A House for Hermit Crab is Published by
ISBN 0-241-13585-0 Hamish Hamilton