★★★★ Clarence Henry the Hermit Crab, written by Janice Spina and illustrated by John Spina, is a touching story about growing up and finding your place in life. The book’s main character, inspired by the author’s own pet, is a hermit crab named Clarence Henry who is missing his right front claw. This little hermit crab’s job is to clean the fish tank, so the water stays clear and free of debris. As you can imagine, Clarence Henry is rather industrious and spends most of his day zooming around the tank, hard at work. The hermit crab’s attitude—and missing front claw—make it somewhat difficult for him to fit in with the other creatures living in the aquarium, but eventually, Clarence Henry starts to feel that he’s at home.
This picture book is a safe, accessible story for young readers, and it’s especially perfect for fans of fish-centered features like Finding Nemo. John Spina’s art is vivid and colorful, the broad lines providing plenty of interest for early readers who might have difficulty connecting with more complicated art or stories. Clarence Henry is a charmingly drawn critter, with qualities that parents will be happy to instill in their children, like hard work, community involvement, selflessness, and friendliness. Clarence Henry the Hermit Crab will show readers that even though it might seem scary to get older and outgrow your current comfort zone, the best thing you can do is remain open to new experiences and willing to connect with the people you happen to meet along the way.
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