Bad crab by Amelia McInerney

cover image

Illus. by Philip Bunting. Omnibus, 2019. ISBN: 9781742994475.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fish, Crabs. Retribution, Friendship. When Bad Crab bites his friends, the Fish, the Octopus and Seahorse, they quickly retire to the wall above the Crab and hide behind a concrete ball. He looks up at them and is dismayed. He does not seem to realise that it is his behaviour which has made his friends go away.
Along comes a Lobster and surprisingly it bites him. The Crab's three friends swim down to help him. They attach themselves to him giving him extra oomph and he bites the Lobster back. The Lobster retires behind the seaweed. But Crab sees a Grey Shark approaching and his friends quickly swim back to their hiding place, leaving Crab alone on the sea floor.
But the friends then roll the concrete ball onto the Shark, leaving him defenceless but unable to release Crab from his gigantic mouth. The friends again work together to release Crab from the Shark, and all seems to going along well, but Crab seems impelled to do another bad thing, he rolls the rock onto Lobster.
The wonderful illustrations beg the reader to look more closely: I loved the expressions on their faces and the wordless nature of the book, begging readers to insert their own words on every page. There will be lots of joining in as the book proceeds.
A wonderfully funny tale of deeds coming back to haunt you, this Crab is that naughty child, forever niggling other people, annoying in so many ways and impervious to the fact that it is his behaviour which is not wanted. When people retaliate it is never their fault, but Crab here gets what he deserves, and it is up to his nicer friends to extricate him from that position.
Lots of discussion about responsibility will proceed from this funny look at behaviour, and many will be able to point out instances of bad behaviour being reciprocated.
Fran Knight