post written by Emma Filbrun
Author: Holling Clancy Holling
Major Themes: Ocean Life, Tide Pools, Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Nature Study, Animal Stories
Synopsis: The life of a hermit crab makes marine biology into high adventure.
How would you like to read a book about marine biology? Does that sound intriguing and fascinating? There are a few people who find such a textbook immensely fascinating—but most of us would skip over it on a shelf. However, Holling Clancy Holling has tackled the study of marine biology in Pagoo, and made it into a story that keeps children quite interested. This book covers a broad scope of topics from the open sea to tide pools, in the style of a great adventure.
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.
The search for a house that fit him took up quite a number of the chapters of this book. Mussel shells wouldn’t work, and he couldn’t find an empty barnacle for some time. When he did find one, he had the funniest adventure of the book—and some close calls. What was he to do? Life was very complicated in the tide pools!
Each chapter of this book is written on three pages, with black-and-white drawings all around the text. After the three pages is a one-page full-color picture, illustrating some incident from the chapter. The pictures, both black and color, are all wonderful! You can learn a lot about plankton and life in tide pools just by studying the pictures. I read a chapter of this book aloud every morning, and most days, after I finished, my two youngest, ages 7 and 4, would take the book and study the pictures for several minutes. They loved the story as well as the beautiful pictures. This is a great book, both for enhancing a study of sea life and just for fun.
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!
Here is a lovely video about hermit crabs that we discovered a while ago:
Read Aloud—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12
Links to buy Pagoo:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Paperback
Keywords: Ocean Life, Tide Pools, Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Nature Study, Animal Stories
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