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The Happy Crab by Layla and Kevin Palmer

Living on the west coast, my kids love heading to the beach and looking for crabs. This summer, even my 3-year-old was turning over rocks and trying to catch the scurrying creatures underneath. One of my strict rules, though, is that what we find on the beach stays on the beach. They can collect shells and let tiny crabs scramble around their hands, but then we let everything go back into the ocean again. That’s the theme in The Happy Crab, an adorable book about a beach vacation by Layla and Kevin Palmer.

The Happy Crab, written by Layla and Kevin Palmer and illustrated by Guy Wolek.

I received this book for review courtesy of the publicist; all opinions expressed remain my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Happy Crab plot summary

The main character of this story is a hermit crab who likes to go on adventures. He heads to Haiti on a whale, sails across the Gulf of Mexico, and splashes with sting rays in the Santa Rosa Sound. That’s where he’s suddenly scooped out of the ocean by a boy.

The boy admires the crab’s beautiful, perfect shell and wants to take it home (like any child at the beach!). The mom agrees this shell can be a souvenir of their trip. As they leave the beach, the crab is worrying about what will happen to him when the boy suddenly realizes his shell isn’t empty.

The mom realizes the crab needs the shell, and tells her son,

Oh, sweetie, the ocean holds millions of perfect shells, and we can always look for more, but this shell belongs to the crab, and the crab belongs to the sea. Besides, keeping a perfect shell isn’t what makes it so special. It’s the thrill of finding one that makes an adventure so fun!

As the family returns the crab to the ocean, the boy wants to name it. He decides upon Happy, as he wants this little crab to be happy. And so the little crab ends up back in the ocean after his latest adventure.

Why we like The Happy Crab

Two siblings reading The Happy Crab together.

Based on a true story, The Happy Crab caught our attention from the first moment it arrived in the mail. The illustrations by Guy Wolek are adorable—the cover features a big, obviously happy crab that just invites you to flip open the book and read the story. I love how the crab is described as curious and adventuresome, making new friends and discovering new things (because so often, in stories, crabs are portrayed as, well, crabby, aren’t they?).

The Happy Crab is a simple story of one family’s vacation that also illustrates the virtues of kindness, compassion and empathy. When he discovers the crab in its shell, the boy could still demand that he keep his new treasure. Instead, he agrees to do what’s best for the crab.

Because this story is told from the crab’s point of view, it invites readers to consider that other point of view. The boy in the book learns that the shell he’s picked up isn’t just an empty thing, it’s really home to a living, breathing creature with thoughts and feelings. The Happy Crab prods all of us to consider those around us, even tiny little hermit crabs from the ocean.

If you like this book, you may also like if you want to see a whale.

More about the Authors

Layla Palmer has been writing online at The Lettered Cottage for over thirteen years. Kevin Palmer is a published songwriter who has sold more than a million albums
worldwide over the past nineteen years. In 2016, they adopted their effervescent Haitian son, Steevenson. A year later, they encouraged Kevin’s retired parents to move in with them too. Today, they all live together in Pike Road, Alabama.

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