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Clem and Crab


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About the Author

Fiona Lumbers has drawn on anything and everything from an early age and always insisted she would be an artist when she grew up. She lives in the UK. Fiona Lumbers has drawn on anything and everything from an early age and always insisted she would be an artist when she grew up. She lives in the UK.


A young girl goes beachcombing and finds an unexpected friend. Clem collects treasures both natural and human-made, and a small crab comes entangled in the plastic that makes up some of her collection. While heading home on the bus with her sister, Clem discovers that the crab has unwittingly stowed away in her pants leg. In her kitchen, she makes a home for the crab, then brings him to school along with all the plastic waste she found on the beach as part of her show and tell. Crab escapes, scaring and delighting her classmates, and the teacher tells Clem to take him back to the beach. Clem replies, 'The beach is messy and dangerous. I try my best to keep it clean, but it's a big job.' When she returns to the beach, she is delighted to find that her classmates are there already, helping to clean up. She feels much better about returning Crab to his newly pristine environment and makes a promise that she will always look after the beach: 'for Crab, and all the other sea creatures.' Lumbers' skillful, pleasingly composed pencil, crayon, and watercolor illustrations and simple but expressive text are perfectly suited to her story, capturing the ingenuous earnestness of her young protagonist. Clem and her sister are white; Clem's classmates are diverse. This sweet, feel-good tale about a can-do kid is in tune with its audience.--Kirkus Reviews

-- "Journal" (11/19/2019 12:00:00 AM)

In her solo debut, Lumbers gently yet effectively exposes a contemporary environmental crisis through a concerned girl's perspective. At the seashore, while Clem combs the tide pools for 'treasures that washed ashore, but also the things that other people had left behind, ' she is pleasantly distracted by a crab that seems to watch her, but then disappears. Sorting the items she's collected into 'one pile to put back, the other to be recycled, ' Clem finds the crab tangled in a plastic bag and sets it free. In the tale's only credibility strain, she notices on the bus home that the crab has crawled into her pant hem. Before finally returning it to the sea, she brings her crustacean friend to school, where she tells her classmates about the rescue and shows them a collage she made with the plastic waste she retrieved. Though the story's urgent message is modern, Lumbers's images of the girl and her peers are timeless, evoking simplicity and warmth and resulting in a rewarding fusion.--Publishers Weekly

-- "Journal" (3/9/2020 12:00:00 AM)

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