post written by Emma Filbrun

Title: Pagoo
Author: Holling Clancy Holling
Major Themes: Ocean Life, Tide Pools, Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Nature Study, Animal Stories
Synopsis: An engaging story and lovely pictures tell the life story of a hermit crab.

I have always enjoyed Holling Clancy Holling’s stories. He has a wonderful way of describing history, geography, and the natural world through a series of stories based around one object or creature. We just finished Pagoo, and every day after I read a chapter my younger children would take the book and study that day’s pictures, as well as the previous ones and those farther on in the book. In this book, each chapter has four pages. Three are text, with black-and-white drawings around the edges, and the last page is a colorful painting of a scene from the chapter.

Pagoo tells the life story of a hermit crab. Pagoo started out as a pencil-lead sized creature floating about in the ocean. He ate whatever was floating around close to him, and had no control over where he ended up. After several molts, he found himself on the floor of the ocean, rather than at the surface—and he felt naked! What could he do for a home to protect himself?

After some close calls when a fish swallowed Pagoo and his home, and a gull picked them up and dropped them on the rocks, Pagoo finally found the right sort of home—but could he keep it? Or would his discontentment cause him to lose it? And then what happened when he kept growing? What about when he was captured by an octopus? Each chapter ends with a cliff-hanger that makes the reader want to keep going.

This is a very effective way to learn about life in tide pools. The story is engaging. Pagoo always stays in character as a hermit crab, and is never portrayed with human characteristics. If you want to learn about ocean life, look for this book!

WARNING: Chapters 19 and 20 talk about the octopus as a witch.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12


Links to buy Pagoo:

Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover

AbeBooks: View Choices on

Book Depository: Paperback


Ocean Life, Tide Pools, Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Nature Study, Animal Stories

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